(NaturalNews) Many parents these days are aware that spotlighting nutrition early in a baby's life can set the stage for lifelong health. A wide array of jarred baby foods at stores now come in organic options, and the word "natural" has been added to the packaging on many child products to stifle parental suspicions that what we buy for our little ones could be unhealthy for them. While nutrition becomes a prime focus for many parents, we rarely hear about what is lurking in the products used daily on their skin. Human skin is our largest organ and entrance to our bodies. Walk down the store aisle of any baby needs section, and there are tons of skin-related products -- baby bath, baby shampoo, baby wipes, baby lotion, diaper rash ointment, infant sunscreen -- and that is just for starters. These products are applied to our baby's skin multiple times every single day. So what is in them?
Mystery ingredient one: fragrance. Sounds harmless enough or even pleasant, right? Unfortunately, personal care companies use the word "fragrance" to describe a chemical cocktail of undisclosed dispersants such as diethyl phthalate (DEP). In high-dose exposures, DEP has presented as a mucous membrane irritant that can depress the immune system. In one study, liver tumors appeared in mice that had direct DEP skin contact daily for two years. Earlier this month, the Australian Department of Health and Ageing called for a consultation process regarding the health risks of DEP.
Mystery ingredient two: DMDM hydantoin. This chemical is known by at least 15 other label synonyms such as dimethylol and hydroxymethyl. According to the Environmental Working Group, DMDM hydantoin is an antimicrobial formaldehyde releaser and immune system intoxicant. Formaldehyde, a widely used gas most often recognized as an embalming agent, is a known carcinogen.
Mystery ingredient three: retinyl palmitate, otherwise known as vitamin A retinol and palmitic acid. Anything with "vitamin" in the name must be healthy by default, right? Wrong. When this concoction is exposed to UV rays, it breaks down, causing a toxic release of free radicals in the body which can damage DNA and lead to cancer. The Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances has published over 25 studies confirming retinyl palmitate's hazardous effects. A recent 2010 study by the National Toxicology Program found an increase in the development of skin tumors and lesions when retinyl palmitate is applied in the presence of sunlight. Ironically, this ingredient is commonly found in most commercially available sunscreens.
Mystery ingredient four: methylparaben. Studies have shown this low-cost preservative and commonly used food additive mimics estrogen in the body, negatively impacting reproductive glands. Reproductive Toxicology reported a link between methylparaben and decreased sperm production in January 2009. In addition, a 2006 study showed that when methylparaben was applied to skin cells that were later exposed to sunlight, these cells died.
This short list shows just four of the ingredients commonly found in baby skin care products including wipes, soaps, diaper rash ointments, and sunscreens. The prevalence of known harmful ingredients in products used on the tiniest members of our race is mind-blowing. The human skin is an organ that allows easy access to the body just like the mouth, nose, and eyes. While parents are more aware of digestible nutrition via food, we also need to be aware of chemicals ingested through skin care products and their scientifically proven impact on the growing body.
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