Photo of a baby in a bath
Children can be exposed to significantly more harmful chemicals through personal care products than adults can

Personal care products expose babies to harmful chemicals

16 December, 2013

Natural Health News — A new survey of personal care products in the US has found that infants and toddlers are likely becoming exposed to hormone-disrupting parabens and phthalates at an even higher level than adult women.

Most people are exposed to them every day – for example, data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that more than 90% of the population is exposed to these substances in food and the environment. The body breaks them down quickly, but both have been detected in urine, breast milk and blood.

Writing in the journal Environmental Science & Technology the researchers found that food and indoor dust contributed to phthalate exposure to varying degrees, but food and environmental exposure to parabens exposure was low.

A third route, however, via personal care products, told a different story.

The researchers collected 170 samples of make-up, lotions, shampoos and other products, including 20 items for babies, and tested them for nine phthalates and six parabens.

In baby products, phthalate concentrations were low, but parabens were common. When the researchers calculated possible exposure levels, they estimated that the potential daily skin exposure to parabens by infants and toddlers could be as much as two to three times higher than that for adult women.

Phthalates and parabens are used in a wide range of products, from medical devices to children’s toys, as well as in personal care products. Phthalates hold in moisture and help fix scent; parabens are used as preservatives. Research suggests a link between these substances and health problems in both animals and people, including sperm damage, breast cancer and an increased risk for asthma.

Organic standards ban chemicals like parabens and phthalates – so choosing organic personal care products for your baby is the simplest way to avoid these toxins.