Phalates and babies, infants, newborns
A Deeper Look at the Chemicals that Threaten Your Infant & newborn’s Health
Create a Safe Home for Your Infant & newborn we offer overviews of commonly encountered chemicals and substances that are dangerous, especially for babies and young children.
Here, we take a deeper look at the worst of the worst. Using the data collected in hundreds of animal and human research studies, we’ll delve into the world of nasty chemicals lurking all over your home. The conclusions we’ll draw will show why it is so important to eradicate them whenever possible.
Phthalates are a major concern when it comes to babies’ health. Avoid these compounds at all cost!
You’ve probably never heard of phthalates. They are a family of chemicals mainly used as plasticizers (substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility).
Phthalates can prolong the lifespan or durability of plastics and increase the flexibility of some plastics. In addition, phthalates have been used as solvents for other materials. They are used in hundreds of products, including vinyl flooring; adhesives; detergents; lubricating oils; food packaging; automotive plastics; plastic clothing, such as raincoats; and personal-care products, such as soap, shampoo, hair spray, and nail polish.
Phthalates are used widely in flexible polyvinyl chloride plastics (PVC), such as plastic bags, garden hoses, inflatable recreational toys, blood-storage containers, intravenous tubing, children’s toys, and some pharmaceutical and pesticide products.
Before 1999, phthalates were used in pacifiers, soft rattles, and teethers.
How do phthalates affect people's health?
Phthalates are a source of controversy because animal studies have shown that high doses of many phthalates impact hormonal activity in rodents.
The health effects of phthalates in people are not yet fully known. Although several studies in people have explored possible associations with developmental and reproductive outcomes (semen quality, genital development in boys, shortened pregnancy, and premature breast development in young girls), more research is needed.
How are people exposed to phthalates?
People can be exposed to phthalates by:
• Using consumer products that contain phthalates.
• Breathing household dust contaminated with phthalates.
• Having a medical treatment, such as a blood transfusion or dialysis, that uses equipment made of plastics.
• Living near a manufacturing facility that makes products containing phthalates.
• Babies absorb phthalates from infant & newborn products.
As for babies’ exposure to phthalates, a new study from the University of Washington found that, when 163 infants were tested for phthalates, 100% were positive for at least one phthalate. Eighty-one percent were positive for 7 or more phthalates.
Many infant & newborn lotions, powders, and shampoos include these potentially harmful chemicals, leading to high rates of exposure.
What are the levels of phthalates in the general U.S. population?
For the Third Report, scientists tested urine samples from people 6 years and older who took part in CDC’s national study known as the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Information about specific levels of phthalates in the U.S. population may be found by reviewing the Report at http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport.
What have studies show about specific results of exposure to phthalates?
The World Health Organization provides this information:
Fetal exposure of male rats to some phthalate esters (e.g. diethylhexyl phthalate, dibutyl phthalate, and butyl benzyl phthalate) results in many changes in the male reproductive tract, such as decreased anogenital distance, hypospadias, cryptorchidism, disturbed development of prostate, epididymis, vas deferens, and seminal vesicles, retained nipples, and decreased sperm production (Mylchreest et al., 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002; Gray et al., 2000; Kavlock et al., 2002a,b,c,d,e; Lottrup et al., 2006; Skakkebaek et