By Farha Abid
I was never in the habit of turning over product bottles to read the ingredients/composition until I had my first child. Anything that comes with googly-woogly ads and cute bottles may not necessarily be the best thing for your baby.
It may conceal within it a harmful toxin that can jeopardise the health of your child. I don’t want to scare you but it’s important to know that infants up to age two are 10 times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults. Children accumulate up to 50% of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday. Horrifying, isn’t it? (Source: Children’s Health Policy Review, April 2, 2008.)
There is a whirlpool of products swirling around us, each one claiming to be the best. Stop. Don’t just pick up anything by its lofty claims and loud colours. Turn it around and read the labels. Earlier I used to have difficulty in understanding the labels, so I started noting down the names of the components I saw and researched them once home. The findings were surprising.
I was shocked to read that some of the best known brands use certain chemicals in their products which are carcinogenic and are banned in several countries. Baby’s skin is delicate and porous because of which these toxins can easily make their way deep down below the surface. There are numerous cases when babies accidentally gulped down baby oil which had mineral oil as its main ingredient, and suffered severe brain damage.
So mums, if you are not in the habit of reading the labels then unwittingly you will expose your child to harmful toxins. It is important to be fully aware of what you are buying, so keep your eye out for anything remotely suspicious.
Here is a list of some of the toxins. Let’s have a closer look at them.
Ethoxylation is used to provide mildness to harsh ingredients, and requires the use of the cancer-causing petrochemical ethylene oxide, which generates 1,4 Dioxane. It is a kidney toxicant, neuro-toxicant and respiratory toxicant. You won’t see 1,4 Dioxane listed on the product’s ingredient labels, because it is considered a ‘contaminant’ and is carcinogenic.
Organic Consumers Association’s
(OCA) study indicates the toxin is present in products with synthetic ethoxylated ingredients, including those with myreth, oleth, laureth, ceteareth, any other “eth,” or PEG, polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, polyoxyethylene, or oxynol, in their names. Baby products with this ingredient in it may also have traces of formaldehyde, nitrosamines, phthalates and other contaminants.
Parabens can be found in soaps, baby shampoos and lotions. Parabens can cause breast cancer tumors, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption and skin irritation. Stay away from ingredients ending in “– paraben.” There may be parabens in your baby’s wipes.
— Various chemicals of this family of poly ethylene glycols are found across lotions, creams and shampoos. This carcinogenic petroleum ingredient reduces the skin’s natural moisture, increases the appearance of aging and leaves you vulnerable to bacteria. Look out for PEG on the baby product label.
Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
This harmful ingredient, recognized as one of the most harmful ingredients in personal care products, is used to give soaps, shampoos and toothpastes that foamy appeal. It’s very dangerous! This irritant can be extremely harsh on the delicate skin of a baby/child and can keep their eyes from developing optimally.Br>
It can damage the immune system; causing separation of skin layers and inflammation of skin. You will not be surprised to know it’s found in car wash soap, engine degreaser and detergents too! (Source: List of carcinogens)
Mineral oil is a cheap by-product of petroleum processing and is literally like a plastic wrap on the skin. Sometimes baby oil is a horrid combination of mineral oil mixed with fragrance.
An undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals. Many baby products like body powder, baby wash, shampoo, lotion, diapers contain fragrance. There is evidence that exposure to fragrance leads to asthma, causes neurological, skin, respiratory and eye damage too. Avoid any product that lists fragrance, perfume or parfum.
Talcum powder is made from talc. Talc may be contaminated with asbestos fibers causing respiratory toxicity and cancer. USGC study has proved that even asbestos-free talc is toxic and carcinogenic. This powdered mineral is often added to baby powder, but is a lung irritant.
Fragrances often contain Phthalates. It is often not listed in the labels. The shocking side effects include damage to kidneys/liver, birth defects, decreased sperm count and early breast development in girls. Look for labels which read “phthalates-free” or “no phthalates”.
Some preservatives like benzoic acid can generate benzene. And benzene is a proven carcinogen associated with leukemia and other blood cancers. This preservative is added to baby shampoo and baby lotions.
While it’s imperative to make sure that babies are protected against harmful UVA/UVB rays, it’s equally important to make sure that the sunscreens we use are free from these harmful toxic chemicals. Research has proved that these chemicals are endocrine disruptors and has been linked to endometriosis and reproductive problems.
There are many more such toxins out there. So if you read something which you don’t understand or can’t pronounce, better stay away or put that bottle back and buy it only after you’ve done your research.
It’s sad but true that we are living in an increasingly dangerous world full of toxins and harmful chemicals. Insidiously, they have crept into every corner of our lives; from our washroom to the bedroom, from our clothes to the perfume we use, and from our breakfast plate to the chocolate we munch. The only thing that can save us is knowledge and information.
Our children were delicately handed over to us by Mother Nature. They were in the safest of places before they first wriggled in our laps. Give them the best because they deserve nothing less than that.