London, May 7: Parents can be putting their toddlers at risk by using baby bottles made with 'gender-bending' chemicals, a recent study shows. The chemical Bisphenol A, which mimics the female hormone oestrogen, could pass from clear plastics into milk, water and juice - particularly when containers were heated.
Scientists have linked exposure to low levels with fertility problems, breast cancer and early puberty. Manufacturers were being called on to put warning labels on bottles made with Bisphenol A as nine out of ten plastic baby bottles contained the harmful chemical. Canada is phasing out bottles made with Bisphenol A because of health fears, while the US store chain Wal-Mart is banning them.
''It is important that bottles and other items that reaches a baby's mouth should be labelled in a standard and easy to understand way,'' Daily Mail quoted Belinda Phipps, the chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust as saying.
Exposure to low levels could cause changes in behaviour and the brain, prostate gland, mammary gland and the age at which females attain puberty, scientists said.
A study at the University of Cincinnati found that the level of Bisphenol A which leaches from plastic bottles increases when the containers were filled with hot liquids.
''It is unwise to make products for vulnerable sections of society using such chemical. And with its ability to leach out into milk, it should not be used in baby bottles,'' said Elizabeth Salter Green, of the campaign group Chemtrust.