Baby Shampoo Awash in Chemicals?
Use of Some Infant Products Linked to Higher Levels of Phthalates in Babies, but Health Risks Disputed
What Are Phthalates? continued...
Every baby in the study had detectable levels of at least one phthalate in
their urine, and four out of five had detectable levels of seven or more
Sathyanarayana tells WebMD that the use of baby lotion was associated with
the strongest increase in phthalate concentrations in babies 8 months and
younger, and the use of lotions, shampoos, and powders was associated with a
roughly fivefold increase in concentrations.
The observed association between use of the baby care products and phthalate
exposure was strongest in younger babies -- those who were eight months old and
younger at the time of the study.
The study is published in the February issue of the journal
Other Experts Weigh In on Phthalates
In a news release, Bailey noted that only one of the seven phthalates
included in the new study is actually in baby care products.
That is what a 2006 FDA study of phthalates in cosmetics found.
"For this reason, we question the validity of the alleged link between
the use of baby personal care products and the presence of phthalates in
infants," he notes.
In an interview with WebMD, Bailey adds that this phthalate -- diethyl
phthalate (DEP) -- is used in very low levels, as a component of fragrance, and
has not been linked to reproductive or endocrine disturbances in animal studies
or any health issues in humans.
Phthalates researcher Kim Boekelheide, MD, PhD, agrees that the available
research does not implicate the DEP metabolite monoethyl phthalate (MEP) in
Boekelheide is a professor of medical sciences at Brown University. He was
not involved with the University of Washington study.
"It is important to point out that not all metabolites of phthalates are
of similar concern," he tells WebMD.
In a separate news release, a spokeswoman for the American Chemistry Council
says the new study adds little to the debate about phthalate safety, failing
"to provide meaningful or useful data."
Marian Stanley of the ACC notes that the study's recommendation to limit the
use of infant care products is not justified by the findings.
"We believe that there is potential value in the study of metabolized
phthalates. But we take great exception to any effort to draw unfounded
conclusions that suggest human health risks are associated with the mere
presence of very low levels of metabolized phthalates in urine," she says,
adding that, "In 50 or more years of use, no reliable evidence has ever
been found that phthalates, either alone or in combination, cause negative
health effects in humans."