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Baby Health – US Health Officials Say More Study Needed on Health Effects of BPA

Posted Jan 21 2010 9:59am

By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kid’s Nutrition Specialist

Last year, stories regarding the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA, were abundant for several months causing plastic bottle manufacturers to change their ways particularly baby product makers. The debate was heated as proponents of the removal of BPA from baby and children’s products claimed there was plenty of evidence BPA was potentially harmful to children, yet chemical companies argued the research was inconclusive. BPA is back in the news again this week and US Health Officials announced Friday that more research needs to be conducted.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claimed in 2008 that the ‘trace’ amounts of BPA that leach out of food packaging and plastic bottles were not harmful.   BPA is leached into food and liquids when exposed to high temperatures such as leaving a water bottle in the sun or  when parents heat their baby’s formula  or breast milk before pouring into a plastic bottle.  After scientists complained the decision was based on a small number of industry sponsored studies, the FDA stated they would revisit their stance.

bpaRevisiting time has arrived, as the US Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that they will expand research efforts and monitor the potentially harmful effects of BPA. The announcement came as US Health officials stated that research does show cause for concern over BPA’s possible adverse health effects on children, particularly when it is used to line the cans of liquid infant formula and in the production of baby bottles.

Bisphenol A is used to harden plastic and has been used to protect canned foods from metal, plastic cups and bottles, food packaging, and many other common household items from glasses to CD’s.  Some scientists believe BPA can cause harm to the nervous and reproductive system and may promote certain types of cancers.  Dozens of animal studies using BPA have found negative health effects but the results yet to be repeated in human studies.

An American Chemistry Council statement maintained that BPA is metabolized quickly and does not remain in the body, yet 90% of Americans have trace amounts of BPA in their bloodstream.  Concerns over the safety of BPA date as far back as 1930 but remained unproven.  One thing both sides can agree on is that more research is definitely needed.  Last year’s tidal wave of concern was enough for the government to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and infant feeding cups.  Until a decision is reached, the Department of Health recommends throwing away scratched baby bottles and not pouring hot liquids into plastic containers or bottles that may contain BPA.

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