Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Health Benefits of Organic Baby Products: Green vs. the Alternative

by Carolyn Deal, founder and President of Sum-Bo-Shine Naturals and Organics

In the early 1970s I walked into a grocery store in a large metropolitan city and asked for organic eggs. To my dismay, I was literally laughed out of the store. My, how times have changed! In today's market, being green is more than accepted--it's recommended. It's an age of awakening and a new way of life. Educated consumers are demanding a more eco-conscious lifestyle--from the foods we eat to the clothes we wear and now even the products we use on our skin. The latest market to emerge from this lifestyle into the mainstream is that of baby care products.

Unfortunately, as green living becomes more of a part of daily life, so do the businesses that want to jump on the bandwagon of the budding industry. These companies package and sell products to green consumers without truly being green. New consumers to the movement who are uninformed buy these products thinking they are healthy, when in reality they are no different than the harmful ones that have been on the market for years.

Speaking with one storeowner regarding a natural and organic line of baby products, I was disappointed to learn that sales of the product were less than stellar. Upon reading the label, I noticed the products contained parabens and fragrance. To the informed green consumer, these ingredients are both allergens and potentially harmful. The storeowner admittedly purchased the products based on the wholesale price and not the ingredient list.

Rightfully so, parents are becoming increasingly more concerned when it comes to protecting their children from these harmful chemicals. During the first years of a child's life, it is extremely important to lower a baby's exposure to chemicals and products that may include harmful insecticides, pesticides and herbicides that are not only harmful in the long run, but unnecessary ingredients. By using organic baby products, parents can help lower their child's exposure to these hazards.

Green consumers may often be touted as overly conscientious but the negative health effects these unnecessary chemicals have are very real. The proof is in the science. In a recent article published by the Pediatrics - Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (PEDIATRICS Vol. 121 No. 2 February 2008, pp. e260-e268) the authors concluded that reported use of infant lotion, infant powder, and infant shampoo were associated with increased infant urine concentrations of MEP, MMP, and MiBP (monoethyl phthalate, monomethyl phthalate, and monoisobutyl phthalate) and this association is strongest in younger infants. These findings suggest that dermal exposures may contribute significantly to phthalate body burden in this population. Young infants are more vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of phthalates given their increased dosage per unit body surface area, metabolic capabilities, and developing endocrine and reproductive systems.

Many consumers do not realize that it can take up to 200 different chemicals to formulate what is listed in the ingredients as a fragrance. The FDA does not require companies to list each of those individual chemicals on their labels. If a child has an allergic reaction to a product, it is most likely in response to one of those chemicals.

In contrast, many natural and organic personal care products carry "The Truth in Labeling" logo. With this label consumers are assured there are no hidden ingredients. What you read is what you get. Essential oils replace synthetic and chemically infused fragrances. These green products are often more expensive than the alternative simply because it costs more to produce natural ingredients than to mass-produce synthetic ones.

It's true that green consumers are spending billions each year to ensure their little ones are protected from a bombardment of chemicals--from organic cotton diapers and clothing to organic baby food and personal care products. Green parents realize the bigger picture in all of this is sustainability. Not only are we protecting our children, but we are protecting their future and planet as well.

It's safe to say that my eco-conscious 1960s generation is no longer the only one propelling this movement. It is our children and grandchildren who are carrying it into the future. Going green is no longer a trend; it's a way of life.


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