While the benefits of breast milk over baby formula are old news, some important new research indicates that additional dangers may lurk in every can of baby formula on the market.
In a recent report by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a consumer health advocacy group, tests performed on liquid baby formulas found that they all contained bisphenol A (BPA). This leaching, hormone-mimicking chemical is used by all major baby formula manufacturers in the linings of the metal cans in which baby formula is sold.
BPA has been found to cause hyperactivity, reproductive abnormalities and pediatric brain cancer in lab animals. Increasingly, scientists suspect that BPA might be linked to several medical problems in humans, including breast and testicular cancer.
Because of smaller can sizes and because liquid formula is less diluted with water, the study concluded that liquid formulas have as much as 20 times higher potential to leach BPA than their powdered counterparts.
Because the FDA has not banned BPA, it appears there are no immediate plans to change the packaging of liquid baby formula.
I know how intimidating breastfeeding can be. Panic-stricken and afraid my screaming firstborn was starving when we first brought her home from the hospital, my husband filled a bottle with the baby formula that had unexpectedly arrived in our mailbox weeks before. It took the next six weeks or so for me to regain confidence that nursing my baby would be sufficient. But I did and was able to nurse her for two years. Breast is still best; seek help from a lactation consultant if you are having a hard time making it work for you and your baby.
If you choose to or must feed your infant formula, reduce your infant's BPA exposure by using powdered formula.
To further minimize the leaching of BPA into formula or breast milk, use glass baby bottles, instead of hard plastic ones marked with the number 7 or the letters PC.
Warm bottles in a bowl of hot water. Microwaving or boiling bottles on the stove can weather bottles, increasing chemical leaching into the formula.
Terri Hall-Jackson lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband and two young children. In addition to writing, Terri works with public television and radio stations/networks in the area of new media and leads workshops on authentic and empowered living.