Hospitals told to stop using baby bottles containing BPA

Health Ministry announces stricter measures on use of bottles made from polycarbonate plastics.

By
December 30, 2010 10:19
2 minute read.
Baby bottle

Baby bottle. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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After July 1 hospitals will no longer feed formula to infants whose mothers are not breastfeeding or to babies in pediatrics departments using bottles made from polycarbonate plastics – which contain the compound bisphenol A (BPA).

The announcement was made Wednesday by the Health Ministry, which has not yet recommended that parents use other types of bottles when feeding their babies. The ministry did not state what other bottles would be used in hospitals as an alternative.

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Polycarbonate containers that contain BPA usually have a #7 on the bottom.

Prof. Itamar Grotto, who is the senior ministry official in charge of public health, told The Jerusalem Post that the eventual aim now is to prohibit the sale of baby bottles made of polycarbonate, just as was done in Canada last September.

But it takes time to change the Israeli standard for baby bottles, he said.

Despite the ministry’s desire to phase out polycarbonate bottles, Grotto said that in the meantime, parents can purchase polycarbonate bottles containing BPA until further notice. But if they are scratched or over a year old, they should be thrown out, he said. The hospitals were told to get rid of polycarbonate bottles because the ministry could start with this as a first step. He did not explain why the hospitals were given seven months to buy new bottles that are not made of polycarbonate.

New animal studies have raised fears about dangers posed by even low concentrations of BPA on the brain, behavior and the hormonal system – and especially on fetuses, babies and small children.



But there is no unanimity on the actual risks, and while some governments have banned the sale of products with BPA that come into contact with food, others have not.

In the European Union, use of polycarbonate to make baby bottles was just banned. The World Health Organization, aware of the uncertainty of possible adverse health effects of low-dose BPA exposure, set up a team of experts in 2010 to assess it.

In 2008, the US federal government placed BPA on its list of toxic substances but has not banned its use. A scientific panel established by the US National Institutes of Health declared they had “some concern” about BPA’s effects on fetal and infant brain development and behavior. An endocrine disruptor that can mimic the body’s own hormones, BPA seems to pose more potential harm during the early development of fetuses and children than in adults, according to experts.

BPA was first synthesized in 1891 by the Russian chemist A.P. Dianin by the condensation of acetone (A in the abbreviation) with two equal parts of phenol using a strong acid or resin as a catalyst. The plastic is transparent and almost unbreakable. It is used by some tin can manufacturers as an inside lining; it is also used in thermal paper, compact discs, impact-resistant safety equipment and medical devices.

The primary source of exposure to BPA for most people is through the diet, as it can leach into food from the protective internal epoxy resin coatings of canned foods and from consumer products such as polycarbonate tableware, food storage containers and water bottles, as well as baby bottles.

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