How Afraid Should I Be?

Dina - Pikesville, Maryland
Entered on August 6, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
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A few weeks ago, a co-worker shared an article concerning the dangers of the chemical BPA (bisphenol A) found in plastic bottles and containers, specifically in baby bottles. Before reading it, my thoughts were smug, certain that the bottles I am using would not be on the list. But I was wrong. When I opened to the article, there was a picture of the exact Avent bottle from which my 5-1/2 month old son drinks. For a few seconds, I experienced that hollow, achy feeling in my stomach I get when I know I’m not being a good parent. Then I recovered.

I read the article. It’s good to be informed before I panic, or even form an opinion. Then, I checked out Avent’s website to see what their statement is. Finally, I logged on to the CDC’s website to read their statements and findings. Whew!!! OK, now I felt adequately educated on BPA and all studies of BPA, on all products that could contain BPA and why, even on animal urine and sperm that have been found to contain BPA.

Here is what I consider to be the most valuable thing I learned: Avent is standing firm by their decision to use BPA in their products. Avent believes the amount of BPA used in their products does not pose a health threat to the infants that use their products. I trust their stand on this because what I read on the CDC website supports it.

But now I had new concerns. The next time I pulled an Avent bottle out of my cupboard, I wondered…are other moms going to notice that I’m using an Avent bottle and criticize me for it? Will other parents see this BPA tainted piece of plastic as a vessel of poison that I am knowingly handing over to my son, as an indication that I am somehow a threat to my own child? I am certain that some will. I cannot control that. What I can control is whether or not to let this affect my decisions, and therefore my parenting.

I’ve heard the phrase “consumer terrorism”. Not being totally current, I don’t know the mainstream definition of consumer terrorism, but this incident with BPA puts that phrase in my head. There is a possible, minuscule, threat due to this chemical. There is also a possible, minuscule health threat to my toddler when she accidentally swallows toothpaste while learning to brush her teeth. There is a possible, minuscule, threat to my infant that he could be strangled by his car seat straps if they are not firmly secured and he attempts to roll over in his seat. There is a possible, minuscule, threat to me if I consume artificial sweeteners, drink too much caffeine, use deodorant, cross the street, fly in an airplane, look directly into the sun….

Back to what I can control. I choose to not be swayed by articles proclaiming doom and danger about a product, unless I find through further research that their claims are legitimate. I choose not to allow the opinions of other parents to affect my consumer, and parenting, decisions. This does not mean that I never listen to warnings. I did return all toys that were recalled for lead content, I do avoid exposing my children to excessive preservatives, artificial sweeteners, pesticides, and so on. I’m not in denial. But, I’m also not going to be terrorized. I cannot provide a happy life for my children if I am living in fear. No one can.