Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Every Mother Should Know...Part 2

Well, it is about time I get back to my little mini-series "What every Mother should know..". Sorry, I have gotten sidetracked a lot lately! :)

So...last time I focused on the air our children are breathing in. This time I am going to focus on the products we use ON our children, such as lotions, body wash, shampoo, massage oil, etc.

Our children are the most precious gifts in the world ever given to us and it is up to us to keep them safe and healthy! There are a lot of things we have to worry about as mothers, but we shouldn't let what we put on their skin be one of them!

Chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and sodium lauryl sulfate, have turned up in shampoos, lotions, and body washes. These products may also contain harmful chemical by-products such as 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, which the EPA classifies as probably carcinogens! Whenever I read or think about this, I get so mad - Why is our country and regulatory bodies allowing companies to use carcinogens in our baby products? My baby's skin is five times thinner than an adults', making it even easier to absorb all these harmful products! Plus, babies have a greater ratio of skin surface to body weight, so they have a harder time flushing chemicals out of their systems!

There were study results published about a year ago stating that more than half the baby shampoo, lotion, and other infant care products analyzed by a health advocacy group were found to contain trace amounts of two chemicals that are believed to cause cancer - 1, 4-dioxane and formaldehyde. Some of the biggest names on the market, including Johnson & Johnson and Baby Magic lotion tested positive.

Here is another example - in a recent study involving infants and toddlers, 81% had signs of phthalates in their wet diapers after having had some type of personal care product applied to their skin. Some experts suggest that phthlates, which is also used as softeners in plastic toys and have recently been banned from children's toys by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, can potentially have negative impacts on the respiratory system, liver, and kidneys! Why are companies allowed to put toy softeners in my baby products???!!! Ughh...it is so frustrating to me - as it should be to every mother!

I know as a new parent, all the choices and decision can get overwhelming! You assume when you are just starting out that these specialized baby product companies have our children's best interests in mind and that they are making safe products...Unfortunately, that is not the case. Why you ask? Well, to start with, baby care products are not as strictly evaluated or controlled in the U.S. as other products regulated by the FDA. They can include harmful ingredients without putting it on the label if they are considered a fragrance or trade secret. Given this lack of regulation, it comes as no surprise that there are many harmful ingredients in baby care products. Also, many products contain harmful ingredients because of the manufacturing process. They are hidden byproducts and are created when other chemicals break down over time or when foaming agents are combined with ethylene oxide or similar petrochemicals.

It really hits home to me that this is serious when I see that other countries have banned them out of their products: Formaldehyde is banned from personal care products in Japan and Sweden and the European Union bans 1,4-dioxane from their personal care products at any level and have recalled products that contain the chemical. If other countries can do it, why aren't we??!!

This can come as very discouraging and overwhelming if you are just learning this for the first time. I know it did to me. I am going to try and help you sort out the significant offenders that you should look for in the ingredients of your baby products. Lets examine these significant ingredients of concern and why they are in this group: Parabens,  1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, benzethonium chloride, benzyl alcohol, PEG's, colorings, and fragrance.

Parabens (Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben): These are used as preservatives in many of the baby products - lotions, washes, wipes, etc. They can cause allergic reactions, are irritating to skin/eyes, and have been shown to be harmful to human sperm. They are also a concern for reproductive problems and breast cancer. They are readily absorbed through the skin and have been detected in breast tissue and tumors.

1,4-dioxane: is harmful even in trace amounts. It is a byproduct of a chemical processing technique called ethoxylation used to make petroleum based cosmetic ingredients gentler to the skin.

Formaldehyde: this is a probable human carcinogen and is associated with gene damage, mutations, and developmental problems.

Benzethonium Chloride: This is used in some baby wipes and is highly TOXIC. Ingesting even a small amount may cause vomiting, collapse, convulsions, coma, or death

Benzyl Alcohol: moderately toxic if inhaled or absorbed through skin contact. It is a moderate skin and eye irritant and larger exposures can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, and even death. It is found in some baby lotions and diaper rash cream.

PEGs: Polyethylene glycols should not be used on damaged skin due to concerns over kidney toxicity. It is also associated with cancer of the blood and lymph systems. PEGs are found in cleaning products and lotions.

Colorings: FD&C Yellow #5 is an allergen and has been associated with hyperactivity in children. It is added to some bubble baths and baby washes.

Fragrance: this is a catch all term that manufacturers can use without listing specific ingredients. Phthalates are often ingredients in fragrances. These include chemicals that are suspected carcinogens and hormone disruptors.

Here are some other ingredients of concern to keep an eye out for - talc, triethanolamine and cocamide DEA, Isopropanol, 2-phenoyxyethanol, glycerin, linoleic acid, cholecalciferol, 1,4-dioxane and triclosan.

So what can we do to fight these companies who are killing our children one bath at a time? Well, for starters..start to be choosy about what products you use. Read the labels on all the baby products you have in the house right now. Avoid or throw any products away that have any of the ingredients listed above. Luckily, people and companies are starting to recognize these bad ingredients and are creating healthy alternative products for our children - so there are options out there! I will help you out by listing some of my favorite alternative brands for different baby products.

Baby bath/wash: Shaklee, California Baby, Avalon, Yes to Carrots

Baby oil/lotion/diaper rash ointment: Shaklee, Earth Mama Angel Baby

Baby shampoo/conditioner: Shaklee, Yes to Carrots, Aubrey Organics

Diapers: Earth's Best, Seventh Generation, Tushies

Baby Wipes: Tushies, Seventh Generation, Earth's Best

Want to do something else to help keep your children and the future children of this world safe? Here are some other suggestions:
If this is alarming to you, it should be. However, I don't mean to start a riot or anything. I just want to inform parents that products can claim to be gentle and pure, but are really contaminated with carcinogens, which is completely unnecessary.

Please for the safety of your children, the rest of your family, and the earth we live on, read the labels and choose wisely.

And please share with us any other products you have found that are safe for your children. I will add them to my lists above as you send them to me!


Cara said...

Great article!! Oh, and I love your new look on your blog. It is shocking what we are using on our little ones, and so many people don't even know it. We personally use Shaklee's lotions and baby products, and we love them! They use organic essential oils and natural safe ingredients to take care of our little ones' skin. We also used organic cloth diapers on our little guy. We knew they were for sure safe. :-)

Marissa O. said...

I am glad you like the article and the new look Cara! I do have Shaklee on my list already but do you know the brand of organic diapers you use so I can put that on the list above? Thanks!

Ivy said...

Oh my goodness... I never would have thought that this stuff would be in baby wash and shampoo.

I am amazed at how much these companies are allowed to get away with.

Thanks for the healthy alternatives. I'm running to the store in the morning!

Marissa O. said...

I am glad I helped you recognize what companies are doing to our children! Let me know if you ever have any other questions!

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