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Toxic baby bottles and kids' products?

July 25, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Trace amount of toxic chemicals like phthlates are everywhere in our homes and in our family's personal care products. Environmentalists say the constant, cumulative exposure is health hazard - - especially to young children. Walk into any store and you'll find dozens of baby skin care products.

"There is a lot of marketing to new parents," said pediatrician Dr. Edna Tello.

But Dr. Tello says that less is more. "All of the lotions, creams and perfumes are not really recommended for infants."

A new study shows those products could expose babies to risky chemicals called phthalates.

"I think we have to really pay attention to what we're putting on their little bodies," said Dr. Tello.

In the study, researchers found phthalates in the urine of all 163 babies tested.

Babies exposed to lotion, powder and shampoo had four times higher levels than babies who weren't exposed.

High doses can reduce testosterone and alter reproductive organs in rodents -- especially males. But the link is not proven in humans.

Pediatrician Jake Seligsohn says one study isn't cause for panic.

"There's no study that conclusively shows that any chemical or phthalate -- as they're called -- in the lotions is harmful to humans," said Dr. Jake Seligsohn.

If you're not concerned about what's in the bottles, what about the bottles themselves? Libby McDonald, a mother of four and author of "The Toxic Sandbox," says plastics are what really raise phthalate exposure.

"My feeling about plastics is that we should get as many of them as possible out of our homes," said McDonald.

She advises parents to replace plastic shower curtains with canvas, replace plastic containers with glass ones and swap plastic drinking bottles for stainless steel.

But Dr. Seligsohn says there's no proof these products are dangerous.

"The overwhelming majority of governing bodies and manufacturers and safety counsels, both in Europe and America, that I've come across, have deemed them to be safe," said Dr. Seligsohn.

He says most humans have phthalates in their urine because they're found in countless products. Manufacturers are not required to list the chemicals they use, so they could be virtually impossible to avoid.

But for new parents who are concerned, Dr. Seligsohn recommends shopping for chemical-and-fragrance-free baby products.

 

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