Are personal care products bad for kids?

Yes—and according to a recent study, infants and toddlers are exposed to the potentially harmful substances in these products, called parabens, at an even higher level than adult women. Parabens have been linked to breast cancer and an increased risk for asthma, as well as reproductive health issues such as sperm damage.

Lotions, shampoos and other personal care products contain chemicals called phthalates and parabens. Phthalates hold in moisture, while parabens act as preservatives. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that more than 90 percent of the population is exposed to these substances. Although the body breaks them down quickly, both have been detected in urine, breast milk and blood.

The researchers (whose study was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology) tested 170 samples of makeup, lotions, shampoos and other personal care products, including 20 items for babies, and found nine phthalates and six parabens. In baby products, phthalate concentrations were low, but parabens were common. The researchers then estimated that the potential daily skin exposure to parabens by infants and toddlers could be as much as two to three times higher than that for adult women.

The takeaway: Limit your children’s exposure to products containing these chemicals.

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