After My Son Was Born With a Birth Defect, I Got Anti-Plastics


Few things in life are as stressful as having a baby. After years of disappointment from unsuccessful infertility treatments and multiple miscarriages, my husband and I were overjoyed to learn we were once again going to be parents. It had been two and a half years since the birth of our daughter, and naturally we were excited about the impending arrival of our son.

A routine ultrasound provided us the first clue of the rollercoaster of emotion that lay on the horizon.

Our doctor informed us our baby had a birth defect. Although a definitive cause had yet to be determined, it appeared that this particular defect was environmentally caused, and on the rise. In the mid 1980’s approximately 1 in 350 babies were born with this birth defect. By the time our son was born, the numbers had increased to a staggering 1 in 125.

I struggled to find the answer. Could I have prevented this from ever happening? Extensive research led me to learn about the hormone disrupting effects of BPA and phthalates. These chemicals leach from plastics into our foods and are found in products we use daily. Studies have shown that even very small doses of these hormone disruptors have been directly linked to early puberty, malformed genitals, infertility, reproductive disorders, diabetes, and cancer.

Those most vulnerable are pregnant women and infants.

In my case, these chemicals not only leached from the plastic water bottles I drank from while pregnant, but also from exposure to flame retardants I encountered on a daily basis. After my son was born, he continued to get a steady diet of hormone disruptors from plastic baby bottles.

Although it was too late for my son, I knew there has got to be a way to get parents back to using glass baby bottles. This became my mission, and so I began my journey.

I am an airline pilot. I never thought of myself as an inventor, but I had a strong desire to help new parents by giving them a better alternative for feeding their babies. Four years ago, I launched my company 5 Phases. My goal was to develop a GLASS baby bottle that was shatter resistant. I also wanted to educate parents about the chemicals in our environment, organic living and alternative medicine.

People are becoming aware of the hazards of BPA and phthalates. Companies are now making BPA free plastic bottles but some studies are finding the new plastic softeners to be equally harmful.

So why not just breast feed? I am a true advocate of breast feeding and there is nothing better or more natural than” mom “, but certain circumstances can prevent a mother from breastfeeding. Both of my children had protein allergies and the only solution was a prescription formula called Neocate. There needs to be a safe alternative for those unable to breastfeed.

There is a definite movement towards green living. In my household, this movement has led us to virtually eliminate plastic products from the kitchen. We use glass, Pyrex, and stainless steel whenever possible. We do however live in a world filled with chemicals, and in many instances avoidance proves to be impossible. For this reason we owe it to ourselves, and to our children, to minimize exposure to toxins whenever possible.

My dream is one day, we as consumers will demand our products be safe without having to read the fine print on labels. Knowledge is power and with knowledge we can make a difference.

Christine Barlow is the mother of two and founder of 5 Phases Shatter Resistant Glass Baby Bottles.

Photo: /Flickr


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