Researchers from Duke University tested 43 babies, and the results were alarming. All the babies were found to have detectable levels of metabolite, a chemical produced when the body processes a chemical known as TDCIPP, and all but three babies were found to have metabolite from another chemical, TPHP. Both TDCIPP and TPHP have been linked to cancer.
But enough technical speak. Where exactly are these chemicals coming from? Researchers think they might be coming from car seats, nursery gliders, bassinets and other baby products that may contain toxic fire-retardant chemicals (and that are in everyone's home!). In fact, the level of TDCIPP metabolite in each baby closely correlated with the amount of baby products in their home. And even more concerning was the fact that the levels of these chemicals in both babies and toddlers were found to be higher than in adults.
As any parent has seen, many baby products boast being flame-retardant, which delays the amount of flames were there, heaven forbid, ever to be a fire. But this safety precaution clearly comes at a price. To make products flame-retardant, they need to be treated with chemicals. Which is worse?
Of course, there's no way parents are going to stop buying products for their children. Things like swings, rockers and gliders can be serious lifesavers in the beginning months of parenthood. (And, of course, car seats are necessary.) But this should be a wake-up call to moms and dads that it's probably not a bad idea to do their homework before making baby purchases. There are plenty of products out there that don't have these chemicals in them. (And remember, some crib sheets and baby pajamas even have flame retardants in them!)
We're not going to be able to shun our children from ever coming into contact with such chemicals —especially if they go to day care — but if you're looking to reduce the amount of products in your home that contain these toxins, the Center for Environmental Health has a handy chart on which products contain flame retardants. Also, when in doubt, go for products made of natural fibers, such as cotton and wool. Other things we can do to reduce the amount of flame-retardant chemicals in our home is to wash our hands often (especially before eating and after handling dryer lint), open the windows for ventilation and vacuum using a HEPA vacuum cleaner, if available, or wet mop often.
There's always going to be something out there that poses some sort of risk to our children. The important thing is to be as informed as possible and to do due diligence before making any decisions or purchases. That way, we all can rest easy knowing we're doing the best we possibly can.
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