Health Team

Chemicals in Baby Products Might Be Harmful

Posted February 8, 2008

A new study suggests that some baby shampoos and lotions might contain harmful chemicals, although the Food and Drug Administration says research on the subject is inconclusive.

More than 80 percent of babies who participated in the study had been exposed to a potentially harmful group of chemicals called phthalates. Researchers suggested the chemicals came from baby shampoo, lotion and powder.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) conducted the research. It has been investigating phthalates for the past seven years.

Other studies show that phthalates can cause reproductive problems in boys and early puberty in girls, EWG scientists argued.

"There's a significant body of evidence that suggests that there's a real cause for concern," Jane Houlihan, with the Environmental Working Group, said.

Other experts say that evidence is far from conclusive, however, and more studies are necessary to prove that phthalates pose a danger. The FDA said it is not clear what effect, if any, phthalates have on human health.

Scientists who work for industries using phthalates disputed the latest study.

"I don't think that parents should be worried about using shampoos and lotions on their children," said Dr. John Bailey, of the Personal Care Products Council.

Finding out if phthalates are present in products can be difficult. Checking labels might not be useful, because phthalates are not often listed among the contents.

Phthalates are used to stabilize fragrance in baby products and cosmetics, so the number of products potentially containing the chemicals is hard to count.

Danielle Wirtenberg said conflicting reports like these often leave her confused about whether products are safe for her baby.

"I'm using one thing, and then I hear from another mother, 'Oh, by the way, there's this chemical you shouldn't be using,'" Wirtenberg said.

Until scientists settle the dispute over phthalates, Houlihan offered one tip for parents: "Avoid products that have fragrance in them, because fragrance so often contains phthalates," she said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • leelisa01 Feb 13, 2008

    Grant is right... Room is too... And quite frankly, I'm only 5 feet tall. How did those baby lotions and soaps affect early puberty in me?? It didn't! FDA and the govt. need to do testing on all products coming into the US anyways instead of waiting on people who have too much time on their hands do testing on a chemical that has been around forever! Just about everything we use have fragrances in it. Plastic bottles or not... This is just getting more and more retarded every time I read a "theory" about these things.

  • grant Feb 12, 2008

    The thing thats getting ridiculous are people posting on here that have done zero background research and spout off starting a trend of the "norm uninformed", you know who you are. phthalates are everywhere and we are constantly exposed to them. It is realy late compared to the rest of the world for the media too start to inform the public. In production overseas there are grades put on plastics for there phthalate content. Europe will not accept the phthalate containing grade on plastics but the US will. They cause femonization in males and eary puberty in girls. Its hard to find anything in glass anymore, were constantly barraged by plastics since the plastic revolution. Tie that to the effects and think for a second. All you can do is limit your childrens expoure during development the best you can. Bussiness that would lose out will take rooms stance everytime as well as those who don't like change. The plastics were the change think guys, Grandma was right.

  • wolfpackfan15 Feb 11, 2008


  • Cable Feb 11, 2008

    Look you want to know what to do here is my advice. If you cant eat it then dont put it on your skin. Your skin is the largest organ and what you put on it gets absorbed into your body. Cold Pressed Coconut oil (organic of course). Its good for your body and your Skin and even your hair.

  • shine Feb 11, 2008

    room -- - - - - I agree 100%. unless of course it all came from China.

  • room Feb 8, 2008

    Hmm.. more warnings for the children. These are getting to be ridiculous. Remember the warnings on eggs? Everyday there is a new concern and someone gets rich thru govt studies or "expert" books they write. Guess I will sit back and watch the panic set in. This should hit all the news stations pretty soon and we can watch the many experts (get paid) and watch the parents panic over the children. This would be comical if it weren't so ridiculous.