A frightening little piece of research involving phthalates and babies appeared recently in the AAP journal Pediatrics.
A little background: Phthalates are manmade chemicals used in the manufacturing of a wide variety of cosmetics and personal care products. They’ve received a lot of attention due to their effects on male reproductive organs.
Little has been done to explore sources of phthalate exposure in babies, however.
Researchers reporting in the February Pediatrics measured phthalate derivatives in the urine of 163 infants and correlated these results with infant products applied to the skin. In 81% of the infants studied, phthalate metabolites were detected in the urine. Lotions, powders and shampoos were the culprits and the strongest association was found in the youngest babies. While the actual effect of this stuff on babies hasn’t been exactly worked out, it’s nonetheless scary stuff.
My prediction: More studies of this nature are likely to turn the infant cosmetic industry on its head. If there’s one thing that parents are obsessed with when it comes to their babies its safety.
At this time there is no standardized information on the phthalate content of specific infant products. And don’t expect it anytime soon. Instead look for small, independent phthalate-free manufacturers to set a new standard.
For tips on avoiding phthalate exposure check out The Daily Green. For a great list of phthalate free baby products check out Safe Mama (tipped to me by Alicia at The Soft Landing) and her phthalate cheat sheet. This is a phenomenal site for following the evolving story of child product safety.