Chemicals tied to cancer, birth defects, neurological and other health problems were found in common baby products, according to a study completed by the national grassroots organization Friends of the Earth.
The study discovered halogenated fire retardants in such products as portable cribs, strollers, car seats and infant carriers. Their prevalence in these and other common household items has led to their appearance in breast milk and in children.
Friends of the Earth is working with several organizations, including a number of parenting groups such as MomsRising.org, to encourage manufacturers of baby and children’s products to completely eliminate use of toxic fire retardant chemicals.
Additionally, some states, such as California, are pushing for legislation to monitor and control the ingredients used in such products.
While such a finding is certainly cause for alarm, Dr. Laura Schwab, a Chicago pediatrician and new mother, encourages parents not to jump to conclusions and dump all of their baby products right away.
"Developmental disorders and reproductive problems are caused by many factors, some of which still remain unknown," says Schwab. "Simply eliminating a ‘toxic crib’ would not entirely decrease your child’s overall risk of any of these disorders.
"We can drive ourselves crazy with these things and lose a lot of sleep over them."
Schwab says one study is rarely cause for significant medical conclusions, but it is cause for more investigation.
"I think that it is important that we have groups looking at the safety of all products we use for our children," she says. "I believe that when it is found that some of these products are unsafe, it is the role of the manufacturers to stop using these chemicals."
She adds that once alternatives exist, "if you can afford these new products with ‘safer’ chemicals, go ahead and use them. But most likely, your children will be fine."