As adults, we expect to be exposed to toxic substances. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true—we know the industries that make our foods and clothing, for instance, are much more concerned with profits than with our health. As such, we’ve learned to become very conscientious consumers. But when it comes to babies, some of us are still deluded that manufacturers feel a greater responsibility, that babies certainly wouldn’t be exposed to the same things we are. The truth is: they are.
Occasionally, we’ll see a regulatory agency like the Food and Drug Administration making stricter rules for infants. Case in point: the banning of BPA in bottles and other baby products. However, that seems to be the exception, not the rule.
Instead, there are several different toxins lurking in baby products and we all need to be aware of their presence.
- 1. Heavy Metals - Arsenic, the metal often used as poison in mystery novels and movies, is also found in baby formula. That’s because many formulas use brown rice syrup as a sweetener. Brown rice syrup may sound healthy, but it can contain anywhere from 80 to 400 nanograms of arsenic per gram. In one analysis, baby formulas containing this sweetener had 20 times more arsenic than formulas that were brown rice syrup free.
- 2. Flame Retardants – While keeping baby products from going up in flames seems like a nice goal, manufacturers employ toxins to make this happen. An estimated 80% of baby products—from blankets to cribs—contain these toxins which have been linked to cancer. The Environmental Working Group estimates that children have three times more flame retardant toxins in their bodies than adults.
- 3. Cetearyl Alcohol – Found in baby lotions and washes, cetearyl alcohol is classified in its own MSDS as being “slightly hazardous” when it comes in contact with the skin or eyes, or when it is inhaled or ingested.
- 4. Fragrance – Whether it’s listed as fragrance, perfume, or parfum, companies don’t have to list what goes into these pleasant aromas. Largely, these fragrances have been associated with respiratory distress, allergies, and even hormonal disruption according to the Environmental Working Group. Use unscented products whenever possible, adding a few drops of essential oils instead.
- 5. GMOs – Baby formulas are fair game for Monsanto and other genetically-modified seed producers. Companies like Similac, Enfamil, and Gerber Good Start all contain genetically modified food ingredients like oils and sweeteners from corn and soy. Those are 3 companies using GMOs in baby formula.
It may seem impossible to avoid all of the toxins in the world around us. But if anyone deserves a clean start—one without poisonous foods—it’s children.