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Wet wipes can be harmful and dangerous for babies, study reveals

Posted June 21

Most moms with small kids can't imagine life without the help of wet wipes. But a scientific study reveals you might be putting your child in danger by using them often. (Deseret Photo)

Any parent will be the first to tell you that wet wipes are a life saver. Not only are they great helpers for changing your baby’s diapers, but many moms always have them on hand for messy “emergencies.” Used to wipe down sticky fingers, sticky faces and sticky countertops, you make sure you're never out of wet wipes around your house.

However, you may want to rethink the safety of your favorite helper. While you may think you can't live without them, it's important to know that the frequent use of wet wipes can cause severe health risks to your child.

A revealing study

Mary Wu Chang, associate professor of dermatology and pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, conducted a major study revealing the danger that hides in the daily use of wet wipes. In her research, she found that several types of rashes (and other reactions) in children weren't caused by an allergy — they were caused by wet wipes.

Here's the real problem

According to Dr. Wu Chang, a commonly found preservative is the culprit behind the health problems caused by wet wipes. In a report by CBS News, Chang found that the preservativemethylisothiazolinone (MI) is to blame. MI is used in a wide variety of personal care products, cosmetics and home products. Things like shampoo, soap and household paints commonly contain MI.

Her study found that most wet wipes also contain this product along with another preservative called methylchloroisothiazolinone, or MCI. Over time, researchers discovered that this combination of MI and MCI was a clear cause of allergic skin reactions. Health institutions then caused companies to stop combining these type preservatives to help reduce risk.

As a result, manufacturers relied on MI as a single preservative, based on the belief that it was less likely to cause an allergic reaction. However, several chidren have been diagnosed with an MI allergy in recent years.

Should I stop using wet wipes?

If you can't imagine parenting without wet wipes, pay attention to the ingredients in the brand you buy. Opt to purchase wipes that contain a minimum number of preservatives and pay attention to how your baby's skin reacts to these wipes. Additionally, try to use substitutes when possible — a damp paper towel can be just as effective as a wet wipe in some situations.

What do you think? Is this research enough to stop you from grabbing a pack of wet wipes? Let us know in the comments!

McKenna Park is a staff writer at FamilyShare. She's a happy wife, puppy mama, ice cream addict and film nerd. Contact her at mpark@deseretdigital.com.

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