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Study Shows Some Baby Products Contain Cancer Causing Ingredients

Are Baby Products Harmful?


Updated June 18, 2014

A study from the nonprofit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has discovered that many popular baby products like shampoo and baby wash contain contaminants that could potentially cause cancer later in life. Baby product moguls Johnson & Johnson and Baby Magic were among the list of several manufacturers whose select products tested positive for formaldehyde and/or 1,4-dioxane -- two things that are considered to be probable carcinogens by the Environmental Protection Agency.

What are Formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane?

These probable carcinogens found in some baby products are not actual ingredients, but results of the manufacturing process. When these products sit on the shelves, formaldehyde and/or 1,4 dioxane form. It is not as if manufacturers are adding these substances purposefully. While the levels of these contaminants are only in trace amounts, the concern many health advocates are raising is the accumulation of these contaminants in the body over time. Consider how often a parent bathes their child -- frequent use of products with such contaminants may later prove to be harmful.

How to Tell If Your Product Contains Formaldehyde or 1,4-Dioxine

Both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane are not actual ingredients of baby products, but byproducts of the manufacturing process, so they do not have to be listed on the product label. They can form during the manufacturing process or over time. Product expiration dates provide little help because there is no "set time" when these chemical reactions occur.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics states that products with the ingredients quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea and diazolidinyl urea are likely to be contaminated with formaldehyde. Products with the ingredients PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20 are more likely to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. You can view the full list of products test and results at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website. Popular brands tested include Aveeno, Huggies, American Girl, Johnson & Johnson, Baby Magic, Barbie, Dora the Explorer, L'Oreal, Suave, and many others. A myriad of products were tested and ranged from shampoos, body wash, and even hair relaxers.

Keep in mind that not all baby products contain these contaminants. More than half of the products tested, however, contained one or both contaminants.

What to Do If You are a Parent

Should you toss all of your baby products and shop for more natural toiletries for your baby? That is certainly a personal decision you will have to make. The FDA is not removing these products from the shelves because the levels of the contaminants are so low. The FDA regulates and maintains that use of these products is safe. Johnson & Johnson, one of the manufacturers on the list, has issued a statement saying its products are safe, meeting and exceeding safety standards in every market where its products are sold.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics wants parents to know that these results are not meant to cause panic, but to raise parental awareness about the contents of children's products. Again, one time use probably will not cause any severe adverse health effects. Rather, the concern is about frequent use of products containing these contaminants and how they may accumulate in the body long term.


The Campaign for for Safe Cosmetics. No More Toxic Tub. Getting Contaminants Out of Children's Bath & Personal Care Products by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.


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