Last week the New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration is now willing to look into the health hazards of Bisphenol-A (BPA). Given that BPA is present in the lining of infant formula cans, the article tells us the FDA recommends that nursing mothers continue breastfeeding for twelve months.
But there's a catch.
The same New York Times article failed to mention that BPA has also been found in breast milk itself. Researchers believe that BPA arrives in breast milk via the countless food and beverage containers we adults use every day that also contain BPA.
The effects of BPA are potentially serious and long lasting, particularly for children whose developing bodies are most vulnerable. Numerous scientific studies have shown that exposures to low doses of BPA especially during prenatal development and early infancy are associated with genital abnormalities in male babies, early puberty in girls, insulin resistant (Type 2) diabetes, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), breast cancer, and infertility in men.
Until last week, the FDA had declared BPA safe. The New York Times article reported that the FDA is now reversing its position and expressing "'some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children' and would join other federal health agencies in a large research effort to study the chemical in both animals and humans."
This leaves mothers in the U.S. in a classic Catch-22. That is, feeding our children breast milk (universally recommended by doctors as the healthiest option for infants), may also be exposing infants to toxic BPA.
And this situation reminds me of another Catch-22. Do you recall when fish was a safe and healthy choice for parents to feed their children? Now, due to mercury contamination, health authorities have relegated fish to a "it's good for you but only in limited quantities" status. In my tuna fish-eating childhood I never thought we'd be carrying around cards to identify the relatively safe fish and that the FDA would recommend we feed our children only two small servings of fish per week.
When our kids grow up and become parents themselves, we don't want them to see a headline that reads: "The FDA recommends that mothers only give their infants two small servings of breast milk per week due to BPA contamination."
American families need our government to step up immediately and ban BPA from all food and beverage containers - those used by infants, children, and adults alike.
MomsRising.org and other environmental and health organizations are urging people to ask their Senator to co-sponsor the BPA Act which would enact such a ban. Here's a way to do that.
Breast milk is good. BPA is bad. We don't need the next generation of women who want to breastfeed to be caught in an impossible Catch-22.
A Peaceful Revolution is a blog about innovative ideas to strengthen America's families through public policies, business practices, and cultural change. Done in collaboration with MomsRising.org, read a new post here each week.