Baby Powder: Why is it so dangerous?
By Jenny Nguyen, CSM SN
The most commonly used item with babies to keep dry and free from rash are baby powders. As new studies are starting to show, the use of baby powders are becoming more dangerous for babies when inhaled. From the American Cancer Society, the common ingredient in most baby powders is talcum powder. Talcum powder is made from talc, a mineral made up mainly of the elements magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. The powder absorbs moisture and helps to reduce friction, making it useful for keeping the skin dry and prevent diaper rash. This mineral is also commonly found in cosmetic products. In their natural form, some talc contains asbestos, known to cause lung cancers when inhaled. The most concern with the connection of talcum powder and cancer is focused on long-term inhalation exposure is a higher risk for lung cancer and women applying it regularly in the genital area are at higher risk for ovarian cancer. Although the results are not definitive, the research continues as talcum powder is being produce in various factories in the world. Another website, babycenter.com, with a pediatrician point of view has also recommended against the use of baby powder due to the risk of respiratory problems. These small particles are easily inhaled and irritate the baby’s lungs, especially if the baby is at high risk for respiratory illness, such as premature babies, babies with congenital heart disease, and babies who have had RSV or frequent respiratory illness. Pediatrician Jennifer Lowry suggests to use the powder sparingly and to be kept away from the baby’s. This is to prevent skin irritation, and powder build up by cleaning any accumulation of the powder; especially in the folds of the baby’s skin. According to Medline Plus, the most common sign and symptom with excessive use of talcum powder is breathing. The markets have talc-free baby powder for safe use but are advised to also use sparingly as the small particles can still enter the baby’s lungs.
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