The evolution of the bisphenol A witch hunt is interesting. What started in bottles has evolved to toys, formula containers, and most recently high chairs. Sites and blogs are building reputations by being the ‘first to the press’ breaking resin disclosures on the latest products. While providing a valuable service in many cases, it runs the risk of creating unnecessary stress for parents desperate to do the best for their children. And the question of toxic high chairs represents a great example. To understand whether a high chair puts a child at unnecessary risk, we have to understand how BPA gets into children.
Eating High Chairs
All peer-reviewed research on this issue currently supports the idea that bisphenol A’s primary route of entry is through ingestion. Bottles, teething toys, cups and food containers containing BPA would appear at this time to represent exposures that should be avoided when possible. Contact exposure does not appear to warrant practical concern unless you are putting your high chair into liquid suspension and applying it to your child’s skin for prolonged periods of time. Even then, transdermal migration is quite low. This fact is supported by studies cited in the November 2007 NTP-CERHR Expert Panel Report.
Consequently, concern over high chairs, automobile interior molding, decorative elements in your home, Halloween costumes, seats on carnival rides, grocery store displays, etc. shouldn’t be a primary source of your attention as a parent unless your child persistently sucks, chews, and eats these items.
How Free Do You Need to Be?
So how BPA-free do we need to be? Do we need to dump our high chairs and castigate a manufacturer who happens to use BPA in the grommet fitting of an exersaucer? Do we need to sell our cars, fire our daycare and move out of our homes? Probably not. We do, however, need to recognize that BPA is one of many compounds of concern in our personal environment. And this concern needs to be approached with an understanding of the real risks. When BPA meets its likely fate, there will be suiters in the wings ready to take its place.
While there may be those who suggest that the BPA in a high chair represents unreasonable risk, I’m currently not one of them. As a pediatrician, I try to balance the voices of those special interest groups representing the plastic industry with those special interests profiting from BPA madness. That would make me the lone man out. But based on the words of frightened parents desperate for truly objective information, I’m definitely not alone.