Chemicals In Baby Products May Be Dangerous

A recent study shows that phthalates found in some baby products such as shampoos and lotions may be, well, seeping into your baby. Phthalates are thought to cause reproductive problems in children, especially males. They’re not listed on the labels, so its hard for concerned consumers to avoid them.

From the LA Times:

The research, to be published today in the medical journal Pediatrics, found that as the use of baby care products rose, so did the concentration of phthalates, which are used in many fragrances.

The lead scientist in the study, Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana of the University of Washington’s Department of Pediatrics, said the findings suggested that many baby care products contain a variety of phthalates that enter children’s bodies through their skin.

Manufacturers do not list phthalates as ingredients on labels, so it is unknown which products contain them.

The researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Rochester stressed that the potential effects on babies were uncertain.

But previous animal and human research suggests that early exposure to some phthalates could reduce testosterone and alter reproductive organs, particularly in males.

MSNBC took some reader questions and asked some pediatricians to answer them:

What’s the alternative to using these baby products?
Karr: In terms of bathing your baby, plain water is all that you need. Special soaps and shampoos marketed for your baby are really just a cosmetic choice, so parents can save money and save worry just by using plain water. With the exception of maybe excessively dry skin, most babies don’t need lotions or creams at all.

Linkner: Parents should go to health food stores, and read labels the best they can. Buy organic as much as possible. If they’re concerned about diaper rashes, they can look for a non-petroleum, natural product. But natural soap and water is what you can use most of the time. Let’s face it – do babies really care what they smell like?

The LA Times says no link was found to baby wipes or to diaper creams.

Chemicals in baby shampoo: What to do now [MSNBC]
Study finds high levels of chemicals in infants using baby cosmetics [LA Times]

RELATED: California’s Ban On Phthalates May Spread To Other States


Edit Your Comment

  1. shadow735 says:

    breathing the air is harmful to babies too.

  2. Beerad says:

    @shadow735: Possibly, but given a choice between having my baby breath “clean fresh air” and “new odor-enhanced chemo-air” I’m sticking with the former.

  3. Plain Water? That has Dihydrogen Monoxide in it. Even a half cup full can be fatal to a baby.

  4. pibbsman0 says:

    Dihydrogen Monoxide!?! We should setup a petition to ban it!

    /P&T Rock.

  5. EmperorOfCanada says:

    “Phthalates are thought to cause reproductive problems in children, especially males”

    It is my opinion that baby males shouldn’t be reproducing anyways. Shame on them, they arent responsible enough to reproduce for at least another 15 years..

  6. shadow735 says:

    pretty sad that there is no such thin as natural anymore.

  7. ptkdude says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: I heard that Dihydrogen monoxide has been found in virtually every river, lake and stream in the US. What can we do to stop it?

  8. The Porkchop Express says:

    @EmperorOfCanada: I’m with you on that and how did they test that?!?!?

    on a serious note, did they actually find that this is not something that turns up in organic stuff as well? if so, there are tons of organic soaps and lotions out there. Affording them is another story.

  9. emona says:

    @Beerad: “Clean fresh air”? Never heard of it.

  10. youbastid says:

    @pibbsman0: @Git Em SteveDave: Do we really need the exact same dihydrogen monoxide jokes every single time there’s an article about chemicals?

  11. Shadowman615 says:

    “Phthalates” looks difficult to pronounce without spitting all over the monitor.

  12. Xerloq says:

    @youbastid: Jokes! Youbastid, DHM could kill you in myriad ways. No joking matter.

  13. yagisencho says:

    Johnson and Johnson phased these out of their products for the European market years ago. The FDA enforces no such regulation here, so…what’s the word, J&J? Are you still poisoning your North American customers to save 1 or 2 cents per bottle? I want some good news here…

  14. reznicek111 says:

    Why aren’t phthalates listed as ingredients? The lists on product packaging sometimes contain dozens of items. Anyone know if there a specific reason this category of chemicals isn’t included (i.e., the FDA doesn’t mandate it)?

  15. Womblebug says:

    @reznicek111: My understanding is that phthalates are not an ingredient in the product itself, but a chemical used in the manufacturing of the plastic containers. There has been discussion about phthalates leaching into milk/formula from baby bottles as well. Unless you buy it in a glass bottle, I don’t see how buying organics etc. will prevent this.

    That being said, if humans were this incredibly fragile, we’d have died out years ago. Avoid what you can, but don’t constantly freak out. Stress kills, too.

  16. Womblebug says:

    And also, if I washed my kid with nothing but plain water, she’d be a stinky greasy little thing. Try washing your hair with plain water for a week and see what you get. Yech.

  17. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @youbastid: Aw, come on, some people just need to feel clever by repeating other people’s jokes sometimes.

  18. stacye says:

    Just went to Wikipedia to read the article on Phthalates: [] That’s just terrifying.

  19. lockdog says:

    @womblebug: I think you’re confusing pthalate with Bisphenol A. Pthalates are mostly found in shampoos and lotions. As another poster mentioned, it isn’t really in the product itself, but seems to leech from their packaging. Pthalates are used to make plastic softer and more flexible. Bisphenol A is the ingredient found in hard plastic baby bottles and Nalgene bottles, etc. We know bisphenol is bad, is mucks around with our hormones, particularly estrogen, we’re just not sure whether the amount that leeches from the bottles is dangerous. This new study suggests that pthalates are more readily absorbed into the bodies of infants than we thought, and may also be mucking around with our hormones. Quoth The Graduate “Plastics, There’s a Great Future in plastics.”

  20. pestie says:

    Pthalates are also found in cheap sex toys, especially the “jelly” types. Silicone is worth the money.

  21. chrisaltesino says:

    Stories like this really freak me out these days. I’m now a father of two and don’t ever know were to draw the line. I usually try to expose my kids to healthier food, etc than myself but its tough when somethings like Pthalates aren’t even on the label!