Study: baby products harmful to children

February 4, 2008 7:19:55 AM PST
A new study concludes that baby shampoos, lotions and powders could expose infants to chemicals linked to possible reproductive problems.The small study was published in the journal Pediatrics. It says elevated levels of phthalates were found in the urine of babies after the products were applied to them.

Phthalates are under attack by some environmental groups. The federal government does not limit the chemicals' use, but the state of California and some countries have imposed restrictions.

Animal studies show the chemicals can cause reproductive birth defects, but human scientific evidence is lacking.

Phthalates are found in many ordinary products including cosmetics, toys, vinyl flooring and medical supplies. They are used to stabilize fragrances and make plastics flexible.

The chief scientist for the Personal Care Products Council questions the journal's report. He says the chemicals could have come from diapers or other sources. The government says there's "no compelling evidence" the chemicals pose a safety risk.

The current study offers no direct evidence that products the infants used contained phthalates, and no evidence that the chemicals in the babies' urine caused any harm. Still, the results worried environmental groups that support restrictions on these chemicals.

The chemicals often don't appear on product labels. That's because retail products aren't required to list individual ingredients of fragrances, which are a common phthalate source.