We know you’d do anything for your baby, so why are you covering them in harmful chemicals? Babies, so little and precious, rely on the care of others for their own health and survival. Most parents would do absolutely everything they could to ensure their baby’s health, but what they don’t realize is they’re actually exposing their babies to harmful chemicals on a daily basis.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body and absorption through the skin is therefore one of the most common methods for chemicals to get from outside the body to in. Many health/hygiene products for babies are skin related; baby lotions, baby oil, baby shampoos, baby baths, baby soaps, baby wipes, diaper rash ointments, etc., but do you really know what’s in them? Here’s a list of harmful chemicals commonly found in baby products:
1. DMDM hydantoin. You may not know it by this name as it is also known by at least 15 other label synonyms such as dimethylol and hydroxymethyl. Its also known by a more common name: formaldehyde, a widely used gas most often recognized as an embalming agent. DMDM hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser, immune system intoxicant and a known carcinogen.
2. Retinyl palmitate, also known as palmitic acid, mixed with retinol (vitamin A). Vitamins are always good right? Wrong. It just so happens that when you expose this particular mixture to UV rays, it breaks down, causing a toxic release of free radicals into the body, which can damage DNA and is known to lead to cancer and the Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances has published more than 25 studies confirming these hazardous effects. A 2010 study by the National Toxicology Program found that when applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight, retinyl palmitate increased the development of skin tumors and lesions. It’s shocking then that retinyl palmitate is commonly found in most commercially available sunscreens.
3. “Fragrance”. Since when is “fragrance” an ingredient? What does it even mean? Unfortunately for us, the word “fragrance” generally means it’s a concoction of undisclosed chemicals, which emit a pleasant scent like diethyl phthalate (DEP) does. As pleasant a smell as DEP may have, in high-doses it irritates mucous membranes, which can lead to a depressed immune system. In one study, direct skin exposure even lead to liver tumors in mice after two years and in October 2011, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing requested discussions regarding the health risks of DEP.
4. Methylparaben. Used as a low-cost preservative and commonly used food additive, methylparaben has been shown to mimic estrogen, having negative effects on reproductive glands such as decreased sperm production. In addition, a 2006 study showed that skin cells died after being exposed to methylparaben in combination with sunlight.
These are just a few harmful chemicals found in baby care products. As a population, we are increasingly aware of our nutritional health, but we cannot forget about other methods of chemical transmission. Our skin is the largest organ in our body and allows easy access to the body just as the mouth, nose and eyes do. Babies rely on us to ensure their health; we are responsible today for the health of tomorrow.