A couple of months ago we declared war against bisphenol A, an organic compound that mimics estrogen and can mess with a person’s hormones and development. This is especially alarming for babies who rely so much on what they ingest in order to develop.
My understanding is this: bisphenol A was created as a estrogen replacement and/or supplement. At some point, diethylstilbestrol turned out to be more powerful. Bisphenol A was shelved. Later, chemists discovered that it could be polymerized to form polycarbonate plastic. But the bond is not stable so BPA leaches into whatever it’s protecting. The government has tested many of these plastics individually and the amount that leaches out is very little. But as far as I know there haven’t been tests run on the overall usage of BPA leaching components. Basically, the sum is much greater than its parts.
As with anything, the more you know the better off (or worse depending on who you ask) you are. But with bisphenol A the more I find the worse I feel. I started this post a dozen times before now and each time I get so overwhelmed, I give up. There is just too much to find and discover!
Truth be told, bisphenol A has become a bit of a monster here at our house. It lurks everywhere and in an industrialized country like the United States, it’s downright impossible to avoid. It’s something we’re trying very hard to rid our lives of. And believe me, that’s a lot harder than one may think.
I’m not going to mention all the side-effects associated with bisphenol A. And instead of trying to work them into a perfectly packaged paragraph (I am not nearly that good of a writer), I’m going to list a few of them below.
- Low sperm count and infertile sperm
- bisphenol A during development has carcinogenic effects and produce precursors to breast cancer
- linked to obesity. (triggering fat-cell activity)
- developmental toxicity
- damage to eggs and chromosomes
- early puberty
As with many scientific studies conducted today, these are concluded after large amounts are injected into our fuzzy friends. (Thanks for taking a million and one for the team, Mickey and Minnie.) Many supporters of bisphenol A think the results are skewed. Opponents feel the findings are alarming and that the compound should be scrutinized by the FDA to find out if it’s safe for our children.
In a perfect world, a baby would drink only breastmilk straight from the breast for (at the very least) the first year of his or her life. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible for many women. In the states, women are granted 3 months maternity leave, forcing them to hit the pump. Some woman have trouble breastfeeding and turn to the pump and/or formula. Either way, the majority of women in the U.S. are going to give their baby a bottle during the first year of his or her life. Unfortunately, most of the plastic bottles on the market today are lined with bisphenol A.
Before Emory was born I had determined very early on that we would use (glass) bottles. A friend from San Francisco purchased some EvenFlo bottles from our registry. I was so out of it, exhausted and depressed for the first two months postpartum, I used Dr. Brown’s bottles instead, which worked really well with easing gas pains. Unfortunately, they are made with BPA. So, for the first two months of Emory’s life, he was being served pumped breastmilk from a bisphenol A-lined plastic bottle. What’s more, the more you heat them up, the more the chemical leaches from the plastic and into the milk. (I use our electric kettle to heat water. I then dip the bottle into a mug for a few minutes.) Eventually, we remembered all the plans we had and ditched the plastic bottles for the glass ones.
Along with retiring the Dr. Brown’s bottles, we’ve gotten rid of our Brita filter, our plastic french press (replacing it with a glass one). We’ve stopped drinking anything out of plastic that includes all store bought bottled water. I figured the tap water here in Brooklyn will do us just fine. (We do drink it every time we go out to eat and I haven’t ever once used the Brita to filter our ice.) We’ve been drinking tap water for 2 months now and neither one of us has had any unwanted leakage or strange bellyaches.
We now avoid all cans lined with the BPA. (Canned tomatoes are a big culprit.) Thankfully, we never purchased baby formula lined with it, but it is out there. I have read conflicting reports as to whether Medela’s bottles are BPA-free.
(I do not think they are entirely BPA-free but I’m hoping someone reading this might be privy to that information.) Medela bottles are entirely BPA-free. Thanks to a commenter for clearing that up.
When you start looking for it, you’ll find that BPA is everywhere. It’s in everything with a recycle number 7 on it. It’s in cellophane, tupperware; It’s even found in pacifiers.
The good news is, many people seem to be catching on. It seems more and more organizations are coming out with alternatives. Born Free makes plastic bottles that are bisphenol A free. (We purchased a few of these bottles just last month.) Natursutten, came out with a BPA-free pacifier. Brita hasn’t caught on yet, which is frustrating. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how America got off on such a filtered-water tangent to begin with. I remember when it happened but I’m not sure how or why. It seemed that all of a sudden, people decided the tap water was no longer safe to drink. Perhaps the bottled water corporations such as Pepsi and Coke had a lot to do with it? Either way, drinking bottled water and water pushed through a filter first seems silly and excessive to me, unnecessary even. And wouldn’t it be ironic if we finally discover that the plastic we’re using is more detrimental to one’s health than the water being pumped through our pipes?
By now, I’m certain that many of you have rolled your eyes at least once during this post. And I’m OK with that. I know I annoyed the crap out of some folks after we ordered an organic mattress. But I invite you to take a minute and answer one question:
If we are able to cut down on the amount of chemicals we unnecessarily pump into our children, don’t you think that we should?
It took months worth of research for me to get behind vaccinations. The more research I did, the better I felt about immunizing my little guy. The opposite can be said for BPA. The more I read, the more wary I become of its role in our everyday lives.
I don’t expect everyone to get on the anti-plastic bandwagon. But I might suggest doing the research on your own and then deciding for yourself. After all, the government doesn’t always have the best interest of the individual in mind.
If there is one thing I have learned in the past year that I can state with absolution, it’s that this parenting thing takes constant research.