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The Health Ministry intends to further limit the chemical Bisphenol A - commonly abbreviated as BPA - in baby bottles and will examine its restriction in other plastic baby products such as pacifiers, teething rings and bath toys.

A Health Ministry committee, headed by Dr. John Young, head of the ministry's Unit for Risk Assessment in Food and Nutrition, headed a committee that recommended reducing BPA in plastic baby bottles. The ministry took measures to restrict infants' exposure to BPA a year and a half ago.

BPA is released in high heat. Plastics containing BPA can break down, especially when washed, heated or stressed, allowing the chemical to leach into food and water and then enter the human body.

The ministry advised parents not to heat babies' bottles in microwave ovens and fill bottles with formula and boiled water after cooling them down.

The committee's recent recommendations followed studies on animals indicating risks, especially of hormonal disruptions, following exposure to BPA.

Last September, the highly respected journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA ) published a study suggesting a link between BPA levels in adults' urine to medical ailments, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and liver function disorders.

BPA is an organic compound widely used in in the production of polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, from which various products are made, such as baby bottles, plastic bottles and plastic boxes for ready-made frozen food.

Two Israeli standards (nos. 5187 and 5113 ) restrict the amount of BPA in plastic products marketed in Israel.

"The committee decided to discuss with the Standards Institute [ways] to further reduce children's exposure to the substance and perhaps examine stopping its use in plastic baby bottles," says Professor Itamar Grotto, director of public health services at the Health Ministry.

The awareness of danger from exposure to BPA has grown in recent years, especially with competition from BPA-free bottles. Canada has been the only country to prohibit BPA use in plastic baby bottles.

Israel, like the United States and Europe, has introduced regulations restricting BPA use.

The ministry advises parents not to use these products when they're torn, frayed, scuffed or worn out for fear of the chemical leaching out.