Posts Tagged ‘phthalates’

Are phthalates in your food?

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

pregnant woman in greenPlastic is a man-made substance that is used to make many products like bottles, toys and furniture. One group of chemicals used in the plastic-making process is phthalates. These make plastic soft and flexible. Items that may contain this chemical include medical equipment (such as tubing), shampoo, make-up and food packaging. You can also be exposed to phthalates from processed foods. Phthalates are not added into foods directly, but they get into the food from the equipment that is used to process them.

Why are phthalates dangerous?

We don’t know the health effects of low levels of exposure to phthalates. Large amounts of exposure to phthalates during pregnancy can cause problems with your baby’s brain and behavior. For boys, they may cause problems with the prostate, which is a small gland near the bladder and penis that protects sperm.

What can you do to avoid phthalates?

  • Try to eat as many fresh foods as possible and limit your intake of processed items. We have tips to help.
  • Don’t microwave food in plastic containers or put plastics in the dishwasher. Limit canned food.
  • Don’t use shampoo, lotions or powders that contain phthalates. Check the product label to make sure it’s phthalate-free.
  • Wash your hands before eating. Teach your children to wash their hands, too.
  • Buy toys that are labeled phthalate-free or made after February 2009 and don’t let your baby chew on plastic electronics like the TV remote or a cell phone.
  • Don’t re-use single-use plastics such as water bottles, coffee cups and straws.

Have questions? Text or email us at mailto:AskUs@marchofdimes.org.

Are plastics safe for baby?

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

You may have seen some news reports about the possible risk of plastics for babies. This is one of those frustrating times when we wished we had more information! This post may help you decide what you want to do. 

Plastics are made from certain chemicals. Two of those chemicals are phthalates (THA-laytz) and bisphenol A (BIZ-fee-nawl ay).

  • Phthalates make plastic soft and flexible. They are used in toys, rattles, teethers, and medical devices such as tubing.
  • Bisphenol A, also called BPA, makes plastics clear, strong, and hard to break. It is used in baby bottles, food containers and water bottles.

Scientists are debating whether these chemicals pose a risk to children’s health. Various scientific groups have reviewed the research and have come to different conclusions about these chemicals. The research is unclear. More studies are needed to find answers.

What We Know About BPA
On April 14, the National Toxicology Program issued a draft report expressing some concern about the possible risk of bispheonl A to fetuses, infants and children. In animal studies, this chemical has caused changes in behavior, the brain, the prostate gland, the mammary gland, and the age at which females attain puberty.  

Remember, these were animal studies, and sometimes humans react differently than animals. We need more research to see if these changes also occur in humans. Meanwhile, the government of Canada is being cautious and has taken the first steps to ban baby bottles made with BPA.

What We Know about Phthalates
The European Union has banned phthalates from toys. But the U.S. government has not done so. In the United States and Canada, companies no longer use phthalates in the nipples of baby bottles, teethers, and toys intended to go in the baby’s mouth.

The National Toxicology Program has concluded that one type of phthalate used in plastic medical tubing and equipment could post a risk to baby’s boy’s reproductive systems. Some hospitals have begun to remove such products from newborn nurseries.

What Some Parents Are Doing
Since research is still being done on phthalates and bisphenol A, some parents have chosen to be cautious. Here are some of the things they are doing: 

  • Breastfeeding their babies so they don’t have to use baby bottles
  • Giving their babies toys made of fabric or unpainted wood
  • Using baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene, or polyethylene
  • Using baby products with labels that say they don’t contain BPA or phthalates