A recent scientific study was prompted by anecdotal reports that bisphenol A (BPA) might be a cause of a condition that causes problems with the enamel on first molars and permanent incisors. This relatively recently identified problem, officially known as molar incisor hypomineralization (MIH), causes the teeth to be oversensitive and more prone to decay. This condition, which is not reversible, is now showing up in about 18 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 8.
We know what happens with rats…
The recently released French study, published in the American Journal of Pathology, involved rats being exposed to low doses of BPA daily – from the time of their conception until day 30 or 100 after their birth. By day 30, the rats were showing signs of hypomineralization on their teeth. So it was during the early developmental stages of the rats that the BPA was causing damage to their teeth.
What does it mean for humans?
Similar studies have not been conducted with humans. However, the hypomineralization observed on the rats’ teeth shares many characteristics of the MIH observed in humans. As with the rats, we know that the effect on human teeth is showing up after the early childhood development stage. We know that BPA has been detected in significant amounts in human amniotic fluid, placentas, blood, and urine. And we also have studies that show that one of the most common human exposures to BPA is through food. The inner lining of most metal containers contains BPA. Even baby food in glass jars contains BPA, which is attributed to the liner in the metal lids.
What does the FDA say?
In July 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in order to address growing public concern about possible health implications of this estrogen-like industrial chemical. The FDA approved the use of BPA in the 1960’s, and it has been widely used in making hard plastic bottles and to line food and drink cans since that time. The FDA again declared the use of BPA to be safe in 2008, but in April 2010 opened up the issue for public comment and further evaluation. (Europe banned the manufacture and sale of baby bottles with BPA in January 2011, and France will ban its use in all food containers after July 2015.)
What can you do as a pregnant mom or parent of a young child?
Pay attention to what you and your young children are eating. Take special advantage of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables available to you this summer! Limit the use and storage of products in containers that are made with BPA until we know the full story on BPA’s effects on human health. While not every plastic container marked with a recycling symbol of 7 contains BPA, that is one indicator that may help you to make a more informed decision. If you are the parent of a young child, make sure that you begin regular dental check-ups early to monitor and control signs of early decay that are associated with this problem (MIH) with young children’s tooth enamel.