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    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...

    To examine whether the use of baby personal care products might be a source of phthalate exposure in babies, Sathyanarayana and colleagues measured urine samples from 163 babies between the ages of 2 months and 28 months for exposure to nine metabolites from seven different phthalates.

    The babies' mothers also filled out questionnaires asking about their use of baby personal care products within the past 24 hours.

    The researchers concluded that use of baby powders, lotions, and shampoos was strongly associated with higher phthalate levels, while use of baby wipes and diaper creams was not.

    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 phthalates.

    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 Pediatrics.

    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 endocrine disruption.

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