Some Hormones With Your Baby Bottle?

If you’re still using polycarbonate baby bottles, sippy cups and juice bottles despite their propensity to leach the dangerous compound bisphenol A, as my colleague Anne Underwood explains in the Feb. 4 issue, at least don’t fill them with really hot water.

Bisphenol A is what’s called an environmental estrogen. That means it acts like a hormone, which may not be what you want for your fetus, baby or toddler. Hundreds of studies on lab animals find that exposure to even minute amounts of bisphenol A can trigger cancer of the breast or prostate years later, reproductive abnormalities and behavioral changes. There are no conclusive data on people, though there’s no doubt we’ve (almost) all become walking chemical cabinets: federal scientists find that 92 percent of us ages 6 and up harbor measurable amounts of bisphenol A. Anyone who wants to wait around for definitive human data, be my guest. For everyone else, some tips:

    • Scrubbing or dish-washing polycarbonate baby bottles releases bisphenol A, tests have long shown.

    • New data reveal that boiling-hot water increases that rate of release markedly. Even brief exposure to boiling water raises the rate of release by a factor of 15 to 55, scientists led by Scott Belcher of the University of Cincinnati report today in the journal . Before exposure to boiling water, the rate of release from individual bottles ranged from 0.2 to 0.8 nanograms per hour. After exposure, rates increased to 8 to 32 nanograms per hour.

There are more and more non-polycarbonate (and therefore bisphenol A-free) baby bottles on the market. That’s the only kind Whole Foods sells, for instance. But if you can’t or won’t buy those, at least wash yours gently in only lukewarm water. No child needs a dose of hormone with her apple juice.