What's all the fuss about baby bottles?

Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the manufacturing of many plastic bottles, including some plastic baby bottles, has been under scrutiny. When heated, BPA has been found to leach from the plastic and possibly get into the contents of the containers. What does this mean for babies and their bottles? Repeated high-temperature dishwashing or boiling of baby bottles containing BPA could possibly expose babies' foods and drinks to the chemical.

In 2007, Environmental Defence, a Toronto environmental group, conducted research on the BPA leaching of three popular baby bottle brands and found detectible amounts of the chemical in all three. This study also noted that wear-and-tear could increase the effects and recommends that parents opt for glass bottles rather than risk BPA exposure from plastic bottles. Some stores have taken polycarbonate plastic bottles off the shelf altogether.

Good news is that currently in Canada, plastic baby bottles that contain BPA have been banned. However, if the baby bottle was manufactured before October 2010, it may contain BPA. In addition, as of December 2014, Health Canada has confirmed that there aren’t any BPA-containing packages that contain liquid infant formula products sold in Canada, and BPA was not detectable in powdered formula packaged in cans.

Should I be worried? Research into the effects of BPA on humans remains inconclusive at this point. BPA's impact has predominantly been measured in lab animals and, under those circumstances, was linked to early onset of puberty, fertility problems, and increases in breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer. While researchers express some concern for pregnant women, developing fetuses, and young children, the risks have so far been deemed minor. More research needs to be conducted to fully understand any effects BPA may have on human beings.