You’ve probably read a lot lately about the chemicals phthalates and Bisphenol A, and both can be harmful to your baby. Another recent study, on both animals and humans, suggest that your exposure to high levels of phthalates during pregnancy might result in changes to your baby boy’s genitals, like undescended testicles and smaller penises. I know you don’t want to be responsible for that second possibility!
The study was done by Shanna Swan, a professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, and reported in the current issue of Environmental Research. She studied 106 mothers during pregnancy and their sons until age 12 months. Boys whose mothers had the highest phthalate levels were more likely to show the two differences mentioned earlier, along with a shorter distance between the anus and the base of the penis. In most cases, they weren’t serious problems (the testicles usually descend on their own by age 1,) but Swan says these changes might indicate a more serious problem–that phthalates may make boys less masculine in key ways. Similar tests on animals resulted in males with lower sperm counts. A spokesperson for the chemical industry claims these chemicals have been shown to be safe for humans. You’ll have to decide for yourself.
Where Are Phthalates Found, and How Do I Avoid Them?
Phthalates are everywhere—in plastic products, drinking water, cosmetics and household dust, just to name a few more common hideouts. Drinking filtered water should help, and you should always read the Ingredients on the labels of everything you buy. You’ll rarely find the word “phthalates” on a label (except for the occasional “phthalate-free,” which helps.) Thanks to thedailygreen.com Web site, I’m providing you with these three tips for identifying products that have phthalates or Bisphenol A:
Read the ingredients. You can identify phthalates in some products by their chemical names, or abbreviations:
- DBP (di-n-butyl phthalate) and DEP (diethyl phthalate) are often found in personal care products, including nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes and cologne, aftershave lotions, shampoos, hair gels and hand lotions. (BzBP, see below, is also in some personal care products.)
- DEHP (di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate or Bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) is used in PVC plastics, including some medical devices.
- BzBP (benzylbutyl phthalate) is used in some flooring, car products and personal care products.
- DMP (dimethyl phthalate) is used in insect repellent and some plastics (as well as rocket propellant).
- Be wary of the term “fragrance,” which is used to denote a combination of compounds, possibly including phthatates, which are a subject of recent concern because of studies showing they can mimic certain hormones.
- Choose plastics with the recycling code 1, 2 or 5. Recycling codes 3 and 7 are more likely to contain bisphenol A or phthalates.
Now that you’re doing something good for that precious baby boy in your belly, here’s how you can do something great for him! Get him some cute clothes or a cuddly toy from Corner Stork Baby Gifts! Here are two of the newest and most adorable items on their Web site! The “Embraceable Blue” Cable Knit Jump Suit (left) is hip, stylish, comfy, and can be personalized with baby’s initial. For a terrific toy that grows with baby, the Mother Goose Seven-Piece Gift Set with Plush Nursery Rhyme Buddies and Books (right) lets you begin bonding with baby by reading him beloved nursery rhymes while he plays with tiny, plush toys like Humpty Dumpty and the Cow that jumped over the moon. When he’s a toddler, huggable Mother Goose makes a terrific tag-along toy. It’s easy to love Corner Stork, because all their delightful baby gifts (except the girlie things!) are great for the little guy!