Baby Chem

By Carrie Johnson Weimar • Published: April 2nd, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Products used to keep a baby clean and smelling sweet may pose a possible health risk, a new study shows. Some baby shampoo, lotions and powders contain chemicals that have been linked to possible reproductive problems.

The chemicals are called phthalates [THAL-ates] (Sue: the ph is silent; pronounce the al in ‘thal’ like the man’s name AL). and they are found in many everyday products, such as toys, cosmetics and medical supplies. Phthalates are used to stabilize fragrances and make plastics flexible.

According to the study, led by a doctor from the University of Washington, high levels of phthalates were found in the urine of babies who had been recently shampooed, powdered or lotioned.

The results may be cause for concern: Some animal studies have suggested the chemicals can cause reproductive problems in boys and early puberty in girls. The use of the chemicals has been restricted in California and several countries, although not the United States.

The new study involved one-hundred-sixty-three babies. Most were white and ranged in age from two to twenty-eight months.

The researchers measured levels of several phthalates in urine from diapers. They also asked mothers whether they had used any baby products, such as lotions or powders, in the last twenty four hours.

All the samples had detectable levels of at least one phthalate. However, as critics noted, the chemical could have come from the diapers or lab materials, which weren’t tested by the researchers.

More studies are necessary before conclusive results are available. Experts are still uncertain what… if any… dangers phthalates pose to humans.