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Baby teething rings contain BPA despite manufacturers' 'nontoxic' claims

When she's not writing, Claire Gillespie can most often be found wiping snotty noses, picking up Lego, taking photos of her cat or doing headstands.

Why do teething rings contain chemicals banned in baby bottles and sippy cups years ago?

A new study published by the American Chemical Society has a warning for parents of babies and toddlers. A staggering 100 percent of the 59 most popular teething rings were found to contain hormone-disrupting chemicals.

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Endocrine-disrupting chemicals — namely bisphenol A, bisphenol S and bisphenol F — are banned from use in products for children due to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease and obesity. The invisible toxins are also believed to cause neurological and behavioral disorders like autism and ADHD, affect IQ and increase the risk of diabetes, male infertility and endometriosis.

However, no tests have ever been carried out on plastic teethers — until now. Shockingly, although the majority of the 59 teething rings were labeled BPA-free or nontoxic, every single one of them contained BPA.

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Since the 1960s, BPA has been used in the manufacturing of hard plastic bottles, sippy cups and the inside of food and beverage cans, including those containing infant formula and soda. Plastic items containing BPA are generally marked with a "7" for recycling purposes. One study of over 2,000 people found that more than 90 percent of them had traces of BPA in their urine. The chemical has also been detected in breast milk and umbilical cord blood.

In 2012, the FDA banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and children's drinking cups, but somehow didn't consider that teething rings, designed to be sucked and chewed by the smallest members of our society, should be subject to the same standards. If the compounds leach out of baby bottles, they can just as easily leach out of teething rings, right?

Before mass panic ensues, it should be noted that the levels of BPA in these teething rings is low — lower than the European standards for temporary tolerable daily intake levels. This is worked out using estimates of average use time and the body weight of a 12-month-old baby. However, the researchers point out that the standards are set for individual compounds, and don't take into account a combination of more than one EDC. Plus, not all chemicals measured in the study are regulated.

The FDA continues to assure consumers that the levels of BPA in food packaging are safe. But it seems crazy that the BPA ban for baby bottles and sippy cups wasn't extended to teething rings. Additionally, manufacturers need to be held accountable for making false claims. There's a big difference between toxic and nontoxic — even if the levels are very low.

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