Whilst getting ready for our daughter’s birth, my husband and I got overwhelmed by the number of ‘baby products’ out there and we got a little confused about what would be the safest brand for the baby. You only have to wander in the ‘baby products’ aisle of a pharmacy or a supermarket to get an idea. What should we buy then?
Or, what should we NOT buy?
In February, a jury awarded $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, an Alabama woman who died from ovarian cancer. It was found that there was a link between her ovarian cancer and the Johnson talc she has been using. Apart from this case, Johnson & Johnson is facing 1400 lawsuits involving Johnson’s Baby Powder. That sounds scary!
It is alarming that it is only in 2014 that Johnson & Johnson flooded the shelves with new ‘improved’ baby products as it finally managed to remove two harmful ingredients: (1) Formaldehyde, which has been identified by government scientists as a carcinogen, released over time by preservatives, like quaternium-15. (2) 1,4-dioxane, which has been linked to cancer in animal studies, created during a process used to make other ingredients mild. What about those who used the products before 2014?
The question is: would you trust Johnson and Johnson’s products for your newborn? Which product to trust?
According an article from The Connexion newspaper published on 15 February 2016:
NEARLY 300 baby products on sale in France contain chemicals that have a moderate to elevated risk of causing allergic reactions and health problems, according to a report. The study by the group Women in Europe for a Common Future (link) looked at 341 baby products on sale in supermarkets, pharmacies and specialist shops across the country and found the vast majority included chemicals that carried health risks.
The group used criteria set out by the European Union’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety and France’s Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament to judge the safety of products.
Among the chemicals the group found that were classed as having an “elevated risk” were an allergen (methylisothiazolinone) discovered in 19 products, including baby wipes, a preservative that can have side effects on the reproductive system (phenoxyethanol) and potentially allergenic perfumes in 226 products.
The WECF has demanded that these three ingredients be banned from all cosmetic products used by children under three years old. The group found 181 products contained chemicals rated as having a “moderate risk” such as EDTA and sulphates, found in shampoos, bubble bath and wipes.
It also noted mineral oils that had been refined from petroleum which could be contaminated with impurities and nanoparticles in skin creams that had yet to have their effects properly evaluated. “We were surprised at the ubiquity of perfumes in almost all the products,” said Elisabeth Ruffinengo of the WECF. The skin of young children is more sensitive and more permeable than that of adults and older children, making the study of the chemicals in baby wipes particularly important. In 2013, the consumer group UFC-Que Choisir also raised the alert over baby wipes when it found that of the 27 brands it tested, 94% contained potentially harmful chemicals.
What about Mauritius?
I cannot recall the number of times I have been advised to use talc with my baby (not Johnson’s brand in particular… but still …) Johnson & Johnson products are very popular in Mauritius; if I consider my relatives and friends alone, I know for a fact that they are not aware of the risks of some chemicals used in some ‘baby products’, let alone the lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, and the names of those harmful chemicals…
Some well known and widely used brands of wipes are ‘Bebedou’, ‘Bebe Calin’, ‘Pampers’ and ‘Nivea’.
According to an article from l’Express newspaper, Bebedou contains phenoxyethanol; Bebe Calin contains methylisothiazolinone, perfume and EDTA; Pampers contains phenoxyethanol and EDTA and Nivea contains phenoxyethanol, methylisothiazolinone and perfume — all potentially harmful chemicals.
The article published on 6 March 2016 states that when contacted, the Ministry of Commerce declared they were now going to conduct tests on the wipes. Result of these tests to date? Well, nothing yet. In the meantime, the shelves remain flooded with all the supposedly ‘best’ products for your baby.
The body part of a baby which really needs some cleaning up is the bum. And that part is cleaned numerous times a day and over the night too. So, no use spending lots over shower gels, baby baths etc. as you never know what’s in these ‘baby products’. Given the numerous concerns, we are left wondering: which product to trust for our baby?