Teething definitely results in stressed parents looking for relief for their fussy babies, but news from a new study is likely going to make them think twice before handing over any old teether, especially if it’s plastic. Researchers in the study, which was published in the American Chemical Society Environmental Science and Technology Journal, found BPA in every one of the 59 plastic teethers they tested. Many of the solid, water-filled, or gel-filled teethers, which came from 23 different brands, also tested positive for parabens and antimicrobials like triclosan. Here’s the real kicker: most of the teethers were labeled as BPA-free or non-toxic.
In order to simulate the effect of the baby’s saliva on the teether, the researchers submerged the teethers in water for an hour. Parabens were the chemicals most likely to be leached as a result. Although the exposure to these endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC) is believed to be lower than European standards for temporary tolerable intake levels, there is still much that is unknown about how these chemicals could affect young and developing brains and bodies — including the cumulative effect and interaction of numerous EDCs. Although BPA was banned from baby bottles and cups in 2012, neither it nor other EDCs have been thoroughly studied or regulated with regard to teethers — and these substances remain ubiquitous in personal care items and plastics.