Millions of American babies suck on teething rings to ease the discomfort of emerging teeth. Many of those rings contain banned chemicals that can be hazardous to their health, according to new study.
Researchers in the United States, who tested five-dozen baby teething rings, found all of them contained bisphenol-A (BPA) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
Studies in animals have shown that endocrine disruptors interfere with hormones and cause developmental, reproductive and neurological harm, according to the study authors.
Labeling on the teething rings was deceptive, with most of the products characterized as BPA-free or non-toxic. All of them contained BPA, the study found. BPA is banned from children's drinking utensils in the United States and much of Europe.
BPA was not the only banned chemical found; the rings that were tested also contained parabens and the antimicrobial agents triclosan and triclocarban, which are also endocrine disruptors, the researchers said.
"The findings could be used to develop appropriate policies to protect infants from exposure to potentially toxic chemicals found in teethers," said study author Kurunthachalam Kannan and colleagues from the N.Y. State Department of Health's Wadsworth Center.
Because babies suck on teething rings, the presence of potentially harmful chemicals on the surface is concerning, the researchers said. The study authors said this is especially true since they found that BPA and other chemicals leached out of the rings into water.
The 59 teething rings analyzed were purchased online in the United States and tested for 26 potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals, the researchers said.
There are alternatives to teething rings. Frozen mini-bagels, wet washcloths, silicone toys and wooden spoons are just a few examples. Never leave your baby unattended with any of these alternatives. While they are very effective, you should make sure to keep an eye on your little one anytime they have something in their mouth.
The results of the study were published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.