Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Baby

Font Size

Danger in Plastic Baby Bottles?

Common Plastics Chemical Linked to Genetic Damage
WebMD Health News

March 31, 2003 -- A chemical used in plastic baby bottles -- and many other food and beverage containers -- causes genetic damage in mice, a new study suggests. But the plastics industry says there is no cause for alarm.

The damage is seen in egg cells of female mice. When these cells try to divide, their chromosomes don't line up right. In humans this results in spontaneous abortion, birth defects, or mental retardation, says genetic abnormalities expert Patricia A. Hunt, PhD, of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

In studies published in the April issue of the journal Current Biology, Hunt and colleagues showed that very low doses of a common plastics ingredient may cause these effects. They also found that dangerous amounts of the chemical -- known as BPA -- can seep out of used plastic bottles.

"The effect we saw is pretty dramatic," Hunt tells WebMD. "We were stunned by how low a dose it took. I am becoming pretty convinced there are significant effects [of BPA] at pretty low exposures. I can't say how scared you should be because our studies don't say anything about humans. But that's why we study animals. We assume the processes are pretty well the same in humans."

The chemical is known as bisphenol A or BPA. It's found in all kinds of common products, mostly polycarbonate plastics. Nearly all plastic baby bottles in the U.S. are made of this kind. So are many common food containers, water storage bottles, aluminum can linings, and even some kinds of dental sealants.

Other animal studies have linked BPA to low sperm count, hyperactivity, early puberty, obesity, small testes size, and enlarged prostates. But Hunt's is the first study to suggest that BPA can affect future generations.

Frederick S. vom Saal, PhD, professor of biology at the University of Missouri inColumbia, has studied BPA for many years. He says that some 40 studies show that polycarbonate plastics are dangerous. Hunt's findings scare him most of all.

"What is so important about this finding is we are talking about something that causes spontaneous abortions of babies," vom Saal tells WebMD. "And then there is the horrifying fact that babies are born with these chromosomal abnormities. ... This is a higher level of concern, a major new finding of a really profound adverse effect of this chemical in mice that were just drinking out of old baby bottles."

1 | 2 | 3

Baby's First Year Newsletter

Because every week matters, get expert advice and facts on what to expect in your baby's first year.

Today on WebMD

mother on phone holding baby
When you should call 911.
parents and baby
Unexpected ways your life will change.
baby acne
What’s normal – and what’s not.
baby asleep on moms shoulder
Help your baby get the sleep he needs.

mother holding baby at night
mother with sick child
Chinese mother breast feeding newborn baby girl
Track Your Babys Vaccines
Baby Napping 10 Dos And Donts
Woman holding feet up to camera
Father kissing newborn baby
baby gear slideshow