(NaturalNews) Babies whose parents expose them to personal care products such as powders, lotions and shampoos have higher body burdens of the toxic chemicals known as phthalates, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington and published in the journal Pediatrics.
Phthalates are industrial chemicals used to make plastics soft, and are also included as ingredients in a variety of cosmetic products. They are known to function as endocrine disruptors, mimicking hormones and leading to reproductive or developmental disorders. Studies have linked phthalate exposure in infants, especially males, to reduced testosterone and reproductive defects.
Researchers measured phthalate concentrations in the urine of 163 infants between the ages of 2 and 28 months. They asked mothers how long their babies had spent playing with teething rings, pacifiers and other soft plastic products in the last 24 hours, and whether they had used body care products such as powders, creams, wipes, shampoos and lotions.
All the infants contained at least one variety of phthalate in their urine; 80 percent of them had seven or more. The urine of babies who had been exposed to lotions, shampoos or powders had four times the phthalate levels of children who had not been exposed to those products. Children under the age of eight months and those who used lotions had the highest phthalate levels.
In contrast to prior studies, the current research did not find a relationship between phthalate body burden and the use of plastic baby products or toys. It is the first study to suggest that children can absorb phthalates through the skin, and not just the mouth.
The researchers advised that parents avoid using infant skin care products except for medical reasons, and that they make an effort to buy phthalate-free products.
Manufacturers are not required to list phthalates as an ingredient in cosmetics, but many baby toys and other products are now being advertised as phthalate-free.