Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Skip the Sunscreen on Your Baby?

The Environmental Working Group issued a press release on March 25th that the CDC has a new study showing that 97% of Americans have a toxic chemical from sunscreen, oxybenzone, in their blood streams.

Not good news for babies, as the chemical has been linked to cell damage, hormone disruption, and allergies.

Worst still, another just-released medical study shows that mothers who are exposed to it during pregnancy have lower birth weight baby ... girls. (An important aside: female endocrinology is much more complicated than male endocrinology and females, born with the total number of eggs they will have throughout their lifetime, are vulnerable to estrogen and other hormone mimickers, the harmful effects of which may not show up for years. Remember DES? Science writer Barbara Seaman fears we may see effects of fertility drugs like clomid on young girls whose mothers took it to get pregnant when they themselves reach childbearing age). Without reading the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine study in its entirety, it's impossible to evaluate its accuracy but it gives one pause, doesn't it?

What should you do?

1) Protect babies from harmful sun rays by using sun blocking clothing and staying in the shade.

2) Buy only natural sunscreen (preferably organic. Anything that you put on your baby's body is getting into his system. That means, really, he shouldn't have anything on his skin that would not be safe to put in his mouth) and check the ingredients. If it has oxybenzone in it--also called benzonphenone--don't buy it.

3) Know that many other products, including anti-aging creams, moisturizers, and lip balms, also contain this harmful ingredient. Read labels before buying any of these products, and think twice before putting them on your child. Organic olive oil or organic avocado oil is a perfect baby moisturizer.

You can read the original press release on the Environmental Working Group's Web site.

Here's a list of the 582 sunscreens containing the harmful chemical.

Here's a PDF of the 28-page scientific study about oxybenzone.

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