Group warns of chemical found in cans of baby formula

Group warns of chemical found in cans of baby formula
There's a new report on baby formula parents need to know about.

The Environmental Working Group, the non-profit consumer group that warned consumers about a chemical found in plastic baby bottles, is out with new research which claims the chemical is also found in cans of baby formula.

The chemical is called "bisphenol A", or BPA, and it's found in the lining of some infant formula cans, including the products of some major manufacturers.

The companies say any BPA present is just trace amounts and well within federal limits. But the agency claims even a bit of BPA can be very harmful later.

"Bisphenol A is linked to toxic events at very low doses," said Jane Houlihan with Environmental Working Group. "Concerns range from breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, early puberty and infertility."

Conflicting statements about the health risk of BPA makes it tough for parents to figure out whether to worry.

For example, a federal panel just published findings that BPA causes neural and behavioral effects, but the panel didn't specify how much of the chemical is needed to be considered a risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics hasn't weighed in yet, but its members are reviewing animal research which suggests BPA could be harmful to humans even at levels that regulators call safe.

"If you look at animal models there maybe some concern that levels lower than that may not be safe for exposures in humans," said Ari Brown with the members of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Critics say there's a missing link in the BPA debate -- actual human studies. The Food and Drug Administration says animal studies show an infant would have to ingest 7,000 times more BPA than is found in normal settings to cause harm. FDA sees no reason to ban or restrict BPA's use in baby formula cans.

The industry says its products are safe and that no changes in feeding practices for infants are recommended.

Scientists may not know for another ten years whether BPA poses any real dangers to babies, which doesn't help new parents who want answers now.

Concerned parents can try alternatives: powdered formula or formula not packaged in cans as well as BPA-free plastic baby bottles. Powdered formulas are a better choice, the EWG says, because babies fed reconstituted powdered formula likely receive 8 to 20 times less BPA than those fed liquid formula from a metal can.