BPA or Bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastics and which can behave similar to estrogen and other hormones in our bodies. Unlike phthalates, which are found in soft plastic products, BPA is found in hard plastics, like baby bottles. BPA is also found in other plastic containers, such as plastic water bottles.
You can identify plastics made with BPA by looking for the plastic identification number "7" inside the recycling symbol on their label.
The use of BPA has become controversial, as there is a concern that BPA can leach out of plastic and into baby formula, juice, food, and other substances inside plastic containers made with BPA.
Although many experts think BPA is safe, a draft report from the National Toxicology Program, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, has concluded that:
- based on animal studies, there is "limited evidence that bisphenol A has adverse effects on development" and that "there is some concern for neural and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children at current human exposures"
- there is "negligible concern that exposure of pregnant women to bisphenol A will result in fetal or neonatal mortality, birth defects or reduced birth weight and growth in their offspring"
That report published in April 2008 didn't really make a very strong conclusion either way, but many parents and manufacturers are erring on the side of caution and are beginning to use BPA-free baby bottles, sippy cups, and water bottles.
Since then, the FDA reports that they have "some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children."