Monday, March 31, 2008

Plastic vs. glass

In today's Mercury, we ran a story about the increase use of glass bottles over plastic bottles because of the concern about a chemical used to make plastic bottles called bisphenol A.

According to the article, "bisphenol A, or BPA, is a manmade chemical used in polycarbonate plastic, the material used to make most baby bottles and other shatterproof plastic food containers. Americans are widely exposed to BPA, but opinions on its safety are mixed."

When I first heard about the switch from plastic to glass, I thought I'd be writing about how absolutely ridiculous it is for anyone to use a glass bottle because, well, glass breaks. When Sophia started holding her own bottle (which she didn't do until she was like 10 months old, and it was completely frustrating for us) she was one of those kids who would take a long, thirst-quenching drink and then throw the bottle on the floor. When we took the bottle away from her (a week after her first birthday so she only held her own bottle for two months!) she did the same thing with her sippy cup, and still does, a habit we are unsuccessfully trying to break.

Anyway, in my house the risk of injury and glass breakage is just too high, and, honestly, I didn't hear anything about this before today so I just never thought about switching to a glass bottle with Sophia.

But now there's Ryan, who is trying to hold his own bottle (and I hope he does so before he's 10 months old!), but an adult is still holding a bottle for him most of the time so in theory there is still time for me to switch. I can attest, though, that I have dropped his bottle about a hundred times – this week.

But the article address this conundrum, "Two California companies introduced a glass bottle sheathed in a protective silicone sleeve. 'The sleeve helps protect the bottle from breakage and bumping into articles in your purse or diaper bag,' said Pam Marcus, co-founder of Babylife, which makes the WeeGo bottle. 'The silicone is a good insulator and provides a great tactile surface for babies’ hands.'"

My argument for bottle breakage just doesn't hold. So, being a concerned parent, I turned to the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences to find out how dangerous BPA really is because when I Googled plastic baby bottles I got more than 800,000 hits about the dangers of plastic bottles, all with varying degrees of danger and urgency.

What does the NIEHS have to say about the side effects? Well, there is some, minimal and negligible concern for pregnant women and fetuses, and some and minimal concern for infants and children. Click on the link for their full answer, I'm paraphrasing very loosely.

Since I believe my kids are too old for me to switch to glass, and frankly, bottles are expensive, I'm not going to run out and replace all my bottles with glass. However, if you are really, truly concerned, I certainly wouldn't fault you for it. I know there are a lot of mother's out there that want only the purest, most natural, organic items even being in the same room with their babies. I am not one of those parents, maybe I'm wrong or maybe it's just practical to a fault. I don't know, but this whole thing sounds a bit overblown to me. I'm not suggesting a conspiracy to get rid of plastic bottles or anything, that would just be crazy, but I am suggesting that the "danger" people are worried about might be getting blown out of proportion.

If you have an opinion on this glass vs. plastic argument, I'd love to hear it. I think the whole thing is really interesting and I'm curious to see if in 10 years plastic bottles with be a thing of the past.

For the record, the article mentions two, what I'd call "mainstream" bottles, Evenflo and Dr. Brown's. Sophia used Playtex bottles, but Ryan uses Dr. Brown's.