Are baby Powders Safe ?
There are many products available in the market for a baby’s hygiene and health. Many of these products are doctor recommended, while others are popular due to their recurring occurrences in television advertisements.
One of these products is baby powder. There is an ample variety of baby powders which you can choose from depending on whether it is safe to use or not. There is also an increasing concern that these products are safe to use and harmful given the recurring news about them.
Johnson and Johnson are facing over 9000 lawsuits for ages over its talc-based products, but studies show mixed evidence for the same. So, what is the answer to the question: are baby powders safe? Should you stop using baby powder on your baby and yourself? Let’s find out.
What is talcum powder, and what does it contain?
Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring mineral obtained from magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. It is the softest mineral known to man. Asbestos mines are close to talc mines, and hence many talcs use asbestos as their main ingredient.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies talc that contains asbestos as “carcinogenic to humans.”
Manufacturers put these ground minerals into a bottle and add fragrance to them, and then they are marketed widely.
The primary use of talcum powder is for hygiene and cosmetic purposes. These powders absorb moisture, keep the skin dry and prevent rashes and chafing.
The difference between talcum and baby powder
The key difference between talcum and baby powder is in their manufacturing process. Baby powders use corn-starch instead of talc, but some companies continue using talc as their main ingredient even today.
Baby powders were designed initially to reduce diaper rash but today are used all over the baby’s body.
The rising arguments of the dangers of baby powder have caused many mothers distress and worry about whether they should use these products or not. Let’s directly now answer the question: are baby powders safe?
The dangers of using talcum powder
Respiratory problems American Academy of Paediatrics points out that talc particles are more refined than corn-starch, and therefore babies quickly inhale these particles. As a result, this increases the baby’s risk for cough, wheezing, sinus inflammation, irritation or severe lung issues.
Babies who are susceptible to breathing issues might contract asthma or pneumonia. However, the usage of the powder has to be excessive for these lung disorders to show up.
- Cancer-related problems
When talking about talcum powder and cancer, it is essential to distinguish between talcum powders containing asbestos and talcum powders that are asbestos-free. Talc that contains asbestos has a clear indication that it can cause cancer if inhaled.
Study author expert O’Brien says that new research does not give any firm evidence between the use of talcum powder in the genital area and the risk of ovarian cancer.
A research study done by the Journal of National Cancer Institute found no link between using talcum powder in the perineal (genital/bottom areas) and overall ovarian cancer risk. They did find an association between the use of talcum powder and invasive cancer.
Another prospective study conducted on around 250,000 women between 1976 and 2017 found no statistically significant link between the use of baby powder in genital areas and the risk of ovarian cancer in women.
The American Cancer society finds a small risk and association between using talcum powder and ovarian cancer. Thus, it is not possible to come up with a particular conclusion.
- Baby powder and asbestos
Many people around the world have sued Johnson, and Johnson said that their products cause cancer. According to Reuters, Johnson and Johnsons hid the fact that its talcum powder contained some levels of asbestos between the early 1970s and 2000s.
Representatives of Johnsons and Johnsons are saying otherwise. Thus, there is no black and white evidence on how safe talcum powders are for babies, but you can take precautions and get more information from your paediatrician about the same.
Should you use baby powder on your baby?
So then why are baby powders still manufactured if they aren't perfect for kids?
Pediatricians do recommend parents use small amounts of baby powder when there is a diaper rash. In today’s time, there are baby powders that use corn-starch instead of talc as a substitute which is recommended for rash concerns, but still, it is not very good for sensitive babies with heart or lung problems as they might inhale the product.
What can you do about it?
Although research about talcum powders and their potential risks are inconclusive, it is better to take precautions rather than suffer later.
Diaper rash is sometimes inevitable, and there has to be a way for parents to deal with it if not by talcum powders. Paediatricians usually recommend reducing diapers or switching to a petroleum jelly-based product or an ointment to curtail the rash.
Even if powder use is inevitable, sometimes using corn-starch-based powder by localizing it only to the affected area might limit its effects. Try applying the powder to your hands first instead of directly sprinkling the powder on the body.
As a result, this reduces the chances of your baby inhaling the powder. Also, apply the powder around and not on the genital area of your baby. Keep the powder out of direct reach from children.
Talc-free alternatives you can use
Some people have been using talcum powders and may find it difficult to use something else; thus, they can try using these talc-free alternatives. They include:
- Arrowroot powder
- Tapioca starch
- Baking soda
- Kaolin clay
- Bentonite clay
Using these asbestos-free powders do curb the potential cancer risk. However, please consult your pediatrician before using any of these.
Disclaimer: This is article is not sponsored by any brand or company. The information contained on Target100years is provided for general and educational purposes only and must never be considered a substitute for medical advice from a qualified medical professional. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription medicines, are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals before beginning any nutrition or lifestyle programme. Target100years does not take responsibility for possible health consequences for any person following the information in the educational content.