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What Is a BPA-Free Pacifier?

by Nicole Harms

As a parent, you want to do all you can to ensure safety for your child. You avoid lead paint and choking hazards, but when you start shopping for a pacifier, you are surprised to see "BPA-free" on some of the packaging. This term may leave you with some questions. Understanding what BPA is, and the potential risks it poses, can help you make an informed decision about which pacifier is right for your baby.

What Is BPA?

BPA stands for bisphenol A, which is an industrial chemical used in plastics, specifically in polycarbonate plastics. These plastics are found in water bottles, baby bottles, cups and sometimes pacifiers. BPA can be found in toys, but containers meant to store food are the most common places where the chemical is found. It has been used this way since the 1960s, according to MayoClinic.com.

The BPA Controversy

Parents who are concerned about their children's exposure to BPA will discover much controversy surrounding its use. The American Chemistry Council, which represents plastics manufacturers, indicates that humans have no risk when exposed to BPA. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says there is some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, prostate gland and behavior of babies and young children. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration shares this concern.

Leaching BPA

BPA is particularly troublesome when it leaches out of the plastic, at which point the child could ingest some of it. This risk is higher if the plastic is heated in the microwave or exposed to harsh detergents, according to MayoClinic.com. If you are unsure about whether your child's pacifier contains BPA, avoid sanitizing it in the dishwasher or using a microwave-safe sanitizing bag to sanitize it in the microwave.

BPA and Pacifiers

The good news about pacifiers is that the nipple part does not contain BPA, as BPA is used only in hard plastics. Still, the Department of Health and Human Services indicates that the shield can contain BPA, and your baby could mouth this. While this would pose minimal risk, because your baby's safety is paramount in your mind, you may wish to avoid all BPA-containing pacifiers. Instead, opt for a BPA-free pacifier, which is one made without this ingredient in the plastic. These pacifiers have a note on the packaging stating that they are BPA-free.

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