Sunday, January 24, 2010

Reducing BPA Exposure to Children for Nannies and Au Pairs

Friday we asked if nannies should throw out plastics containing BPA. Yesterday we recommended two books by Alan Greene, an advocate for reducing exposure to BPA. Today we post an article by the author about reducing BPA exposure.

Reducing BPA Exposure: The FDA Finally Concerned By Alan Greene

What should parents [and caregivers] do now? The FDA has finally, in January 2010, reversed its earlier position of calling exposure to small amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) safe. They now agree with the National Toxicology Program at NIH that there is reason for some concern about the potential effects on the brain, behavior, and body of a child when exposed to small amounts of BPA before birth, during infancy, or in early childhood. Together NIH and the FDA are embarking on research for the next 18 to 24 months to answer key questions about BPA and to map out the extent of concern. In the meantime, the FDA has announced that they are taking reasonable steps to reduce human exposure to BPA in the food supply – especially for young children.

How are children exposed to BPA? BPA is the chemical used to make some plastics transparent and hard. It’s been used in many plastic bottles and food containers; it’s also used in the epoxy linings of many metal food and beverage cans. Either way it can get into what we eat and drink and has been found in the bodies of more than 90 percent of Americans tested. Just changing to BPA-containing water bottles for one week raised BPA levels by two-thirds in a recent study of Harvard college students.

I’ve been concerned about the effects of BPA on our children for years (see Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green, and this interview from Stanford).

If your baby has already been exposed, there is no reason for panic. BPA has been in common use for decades. Whatever health effects BPA causes, we already see them in the general health of today’s children. It’s not that we’re expecting a new epidemic, but that reducing BPA exposure could lead to even healthier children in the future.

In sharp contrast to its earlier reassurances about the safety of BPA, the FDA is now taking welcome steps to improve the health of our children:

  • They support manufacturer’s efforts to produce BPA-free baby bottles, sippy cups, and feeding containers.

  • They support efforts to replace BPA or remove BPA from the linings of food and beverage cans.

  • They endorse the Department of Health and Human Services recommendations for infant feeding and food preparation to reduce exposure to BPA:

1. Breastfeed when possible for at least 12-months; when not an option, infant formula is the safest alternative.
2. Discard scratched or worn baby bottles and feeding cups.
3. Temperature matters. More BPA transfers when hot liquids come into contact with the plastic or can lining.
4. Check the labels on your bottles and food preparation containers. In general, plastics marked with recycling symbols 1, 2, 4, or 5 or not likely to contain BPA (remember, 12:45). Or look for products labeled BPA-free.
5. Also, “Adults and older children should follow reasonable food preparation practices to reduce exposure to BPA.”

I’m excited about the FDA’s 2010 New Year’s resolution and expect it to help babies across the country (not to mention older children and adults) have the brains, behavior, and bodies they want for years to come.

Note: Dr. Greene teamed up with BornFree in September of 2008 to help teach families about important issues concerning BPA, phthalates, and PVC.

1. Carwile, J.L., Luu, H.T., Bassett, L.S., Driscoll, D.A., Yuan, C., Chang, J.Y., Ye, X., Calafta, A.M., and Michels, K.B. “Polycarbonate Bottle Use and Urinary Bisphenol A Concentrations.” Environmental Health Perspectives, Sep 2009, 117(9):1368-1372.

2. US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Bisphenol A (BPA) Information for Parents.

3. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “Update on Bisphenol A for Use in Food Contact Applications: January 2010.

What do you think? Should we serve children meals and drinks in plastics containing BPA? Will you be throwing out plastics with BPA?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I heard about BPA on news all week. I agree we need to keep kids away from it. But the parents are in charge of their kids and their house. I can't tell them to throw out their belongings.
Raleigh North Carolina
Baby Nurse and Nanny

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Baby Nurse from Raleigh. I feel as a nanny I am an adovcate for children. We must tell parents about dangers of BPA. A few days ago a parent "blessed her great nanny" for telling her about the new study of BPA dangers. We have the responsibility to protect the children in our care!

Nanny Annie R.
23 Years Nanny Experience
Early Education Degree
Chappaqua, New York

CareerNanny97 said...

Hi,

Agree with both Annie and the Baby Nurse! I think it is our duty to be advocates for our children and educate our parents for their children's sake. At the same time we have no right to tell a Parent how to raise their child, because when it all comes down to it is there child and not ours. I think we could only suggest making a change or even offer to purchase some bottles that are BP free in hopes to reach a middle ground. Now as a nanny for my families I have been given permission throw things out that are worn etc... So if I come across a sippy cup/bottle that may have a little scratch in it I will toss and since I do some of the shopping for the children I just would buy BP free products.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for posting a great resource for nannies. I never visited Dr Greene's site and did today and it's great. Very helpful!

I also think we must tell the busy parents about BPA. The parents I work for are much too busy to watch the news or read the paper.

After you posted this Friday I've been researching myself and it's really important to tell the parents.

But if they choose not to follow your advice to get too worked up. Still don't heat any plastics in microwave or dry in dishwasher. Heat milks and formulas outside of the baby bottle and add to bottle. These type things you can do regardless of the type of baby bottle the parents choose to use.

Thanks as always for being a super resource of great info!

Melanie, Household Manager
Originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico working in Rolling Hills, California

Anonymous said...

We threw out all the plastic dishes and bottles with 3 and 7 on them. I think most nannies work for affluent families who can certainly afford to replace the plastic bottles. I also read to throw out cracked plastic and if you taste plastic throw it out.
great nanny from middleburg, va

Michelle said...

We did have water bottles we needed to throw out. I did not ask for permission I did it and told the parents later. I went to Costco which had several shelves of bpa free water bottles available and easy to see. I heard that glass infant bottles are on backorder and sold out in many stores in the nation. Good, it's a start. I will be rethinking my position on oraganic foods too. I think it just makes instinctual sense that the new idustrialized chemicals of this century are causing more asthma, cancer, autism, and so on....

Anonymous said...

I will definitely show the mother who hires me this tomorrow. I think we ought to throw out the plastics with 3 or 7 and ps in recycle triangle. Soda cans, cans of soup and tuna? It's nuts. Manufacturers should have been held accountable and had testing done 40 years ago BEFORE putting these toxins on the market and holding our food! I will follow this closely.
Dena Fevre, Nanny 8 Yrs
Sausalito, Ca