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Panel worried about baby bottle chemical

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A chemical used in plastic baby bottles and other products may affect unborn babies and young children and more study on its safety is needed, a U.S. panel of experts said on Wednesday.

A nine-month-old baby reaches for a bottle during a publicity event in Los Angeles, August 26, 2004. A chemical used in plastic baby bottles and other products may affect unborn babies and young children and more study on its safety is needed, a U.S. panel of experts said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

The National Toxicology Program Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction convened an expert panel on the effects of bisphenol A, used in clear plastic polycarbonate bottles. Its report will be available later this year, the NTP said.

It said the panel of experts “expressed negligible concern that exposure to Bisphenol A in utero produces birth defects and malformations”. But for pregnant women and fetuses, the committee expressed some concern that exposure to Bisphenol A in utero causes neural and behavioral effects.

The NTP, part of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said people can be exposed to the chemical by direct contact or via food or drink that has been in contact with a material containing bisphenol A.

Environmental groups have for years been complaining about the safety of plastic toys, baby bottles and other products containing bisphenol A and pother chemicals known as phthalates.

“(The Center) selected this chemical for evaluation because of (1) high production volume, (2) widespread human exposure, (3) evidence of reproductive toxicity in laboratory animal studies, and (4) public concern,” the NTP said in a statement.

Polycarbonate plastics are used in food and drink packaging and resins are used to coat metal products such as food cans, bottle tops, and water supply pipes.

The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association, which represents the leading manufacturers of baby bottles in the United States, said the panel’s brief statement suggested the bottles are safe.

“The Panel’s conclusions today reaffirm the safety of plastic baby bottles,” said JPMA President Robert Waller.

“These findings validate the Food and Drug Administration’s conclusions and the conclusions of governments and independent scientists worldwide that polycarbonate plastic baby bottles are safe.”

The panel's brief summary is available on the Internethere.

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