Q: What is BPA?
A: Many food and liquid containers are made of polycarbonate, or lined with an epoxy that contains the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). It is used to harden plastics, keep bacteria from contaminating foods, and prevent cans from rusting.
Q: Why is there controversy over BPA?
A: The controversy is over the possible harmful effects BPA may have on humans particularly on infants and children in their developmental phases. Animal studies have shown effects on endocrine functions in animals related to exposure to BPA. Additional studies by the FDA will determine what level of exposure to BPA might cause similar effects in humans.
Q: What precautionary measures can parents take to reduce babies' exposure to BPA?
- Encourage breastfeeding. The AAP recommends exclusive breastfeeding for a minimum of 4 months but preferably for 6 months. Breastfeeding should be continued, with the addition of complementary foods, at least through the first 12 months of age and thereafter as long as mutually desired by mother and infant.
If breastfeeding is not an option, iron-fortified infant formula is the safest and most nutritious alternative. The benefit of a stable source of good nutrition from infant formula and food outweighs the potential risk of BPA exposure.
Canned, ready-to-eat liquid formulas use epoxy liners, which contain BPA. If using formula, choose powdered formula. Parents with babies on specialized formulas to address medical conditions should not switch children off those formulas, as the known risks of doing so would outweigh any potential risks posed by BPA.
Parents should discuss any significant changes to your baby’s diet with your pediatrician.
- Avoid clear plastic bottles or containers with the recycling #7 and the letters "PC" imprinted on them. Many contain BPA
- Consider using certified or identified BPA-free plastic bottles
- Use bottles made of opaque plastic. These bottles (made of polyethylene or polypropylene) do not contain BPA
- Glass bottles can be an alternative, but be aware of the risk of injury to you or your baby if the bottle is dropped or broken
- Because heat may cause the release of BPA from plastic, consider the following:
- Do not boil polycarbonate bottles
- Do not heat microwave polycarbonate bottles
- Do not wash polycarbonate bottles in the dishwasher
- Discard scratched baby bottles and infant feeding cups. Worn bottles and feeding cups are likely to have scratches that harbor germs and, if BPA-containing, release small amounts of BPA
Q: Should I stop using canned liquid formula?
A: If you are considering switching from liquid to powdered formula, note that the mixing procedures may differ, so pay special attention when preparing formula from powder.
- If your baby is on specialized formula to address a medical condition, you should not switch to another formula, as the known risks would outweigh any potential risks posed by BPA.
- Risks associated with giving your baby homemade condensed milk formulas or soy or goat milk are far greater than the potential effects of BPA
Links to additional information on bisphenol A (BPA) for parents: