Archive for December, 2010

New Study Finds Link Between SIDS and Alcohol Consumption

Thursday, December 30th, 2010


One more way to keep your baby safe.

Every parent is concerned about SIDS. Although there are many theories about it, and some feel they’ve narrowed down possible causes, it is still the # 1 cause of death in children between the ages of one month and one year. New research has now linked SIDS to parents or caregivers drinking alcohol. It may not be the sole cause of SIDS, but it might enable you to make changes that could keep your baby safe.


The study, conducted by University of California sociologist, David Phillips, reviewed 129,090 SIDS cases that occurred between 1973 to 2006.

The findings showed that SIDS deaths increased at times also known for increased alcohol consumption. For example, SIDS deaths spiked by 33% on New Year’s Day. Researchers also discovered that SIDS deaths were higher on weekends and on the fourth of July.

This lines up with other statistics on SIDS: Babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS.

One doctor commenting on the study said, “”Although the study alerts us to considering the increase in SIDS at this time of the year (meaning New Year’s), it concerns me because it does not have evidence to suggest a cause or action to prevent this increase.”

Actually, the ‘action to prevent this increase’ is pretty clear. Don’t drink alcohol AND take care of babies. Pretty simple.

Many other factors are suspected of contributing to SIDS:

Babies suffocating in extra quilts, blankets, pillows, very soft mattresses, or by sleeping on their stomach. Recommendations are to put the baby to sleep in his or her back with no extra or heavy blankets, toys, etc., and ensure they can’t roll over.;

Babies overheating if they’re over-dressed or in a room where the temperature is too high. We have a tendency to bundle babies a little too much and have their bedrooms very warm. Most doctors recommend that if you are too hot or too cold in a room, your baby probably is, too. Don’t use extra blankets or clothing; if the temperature’s good for you (unless you are particularly sensitive), then it’s probably fine for baby;

Some experts think breathing fumes coming from the chemicals in baby crib mattresses. Naturepedic crib mattresses have been independently tested to ensure the air around them is safe for baby.;

And others are still being researched.

If parents took care of all of the known or suspected risk factors, would SIDS be over? No one really knows. But we do know that we can lower our baby’s chances of SIDS by addressing the things in the above list. And now, thanks to this new study, we know that drinking alcohol and caring for babies do not mix. Abstinence may be the best policy for parents and caregivers of young children.

Are You Still Using Antibacterial Products on Your Kids?

Monday, December 27th, 2010


Still Killing Germs With Toxic Chemicals?

Are you still using triclosan to protect your kids from germs? A few months ago we wrote a couple of blogs about the dangers of triclosan, the antibacterial chemical used in soaps, cleansers, toothpastes and a variety of other products. Parents are using these antibacterial products on their kids every day, thinking they’re doing the best thing by trying to keep their kids germ-free. But, triclosan is not the way to do it: studies have pretty much proven it’s toxic. Finally, after decades of delay, the FDA is taking action which will probably lead to a ban on triclosan – but will it be fast enough to protect our children from this dangerous chemical? And, if not, what are our alternatives?


If you’d like to read more about triclosan, check out the earlier blogs. The first, Germs or Toxic Chemicals – Do We Really Have to Make that Choice?, is about the studies on triclosan and a lawsuit filed on the FDA’s decades-long delay in rendering a final ruling on its safety. The second, Are Antibacterial Socks, Shoes and Underwear Safe for Your Kids?, revealed the fact that this dangerous chemical is even used in socks, shoes, underwear and other clothing articles that our kids may be wearing right now!

Some public officials are up in arms about nothing being done about triclosan. Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, for example, has been very active in trying to get triclosan off the shelves. His office even contacted more than a dozen companies to get them to voluntarily remove it from their products. A few said they will get rid of the chemical in the near future, but most refused, saying that they are waiting for the FDA review.

Rep. Markey sent a letter to the FDA last week asking for an update. It looks like the FDA is finally going to take action but, unfortunately, that action will probably consist of simply requesting additional information, said FDA spokesperson Karen Riley.

How long will it take for a final ruling? Who knows? It’s taken decades so far.

Eventually, though, triclosan will be banned. There’s no way around it. The evidence against it is too strong.

But as parents, we really need to do something to protect our families now. We can’t wait while industry or government agencies drag their feet. So much damage has been created by chemicals we had assumed were safe; it’s now time to recognize that the only really safe way to go is to assume chemicals guilty until proven innocent.

With that premise as a basis for decision-making, we can be assured we are doing the best to protect ourselves and our children from future disaster.

In the meantime, here is some very good news: You can safely get rid of all the triclosan-containing products in your house without worrying about your kids coming into contact with too many germs: the FDA concluded and announced that triclosan doesn’t get rid of any more germs than good, old-fashioned soap and water!

How do you know if a product contains triclosan? If the label says “antibacterial,” “antimicrobial” or “odor-free,” chances are it contains triclosan. Check the ingredients list and, if it still isn’t clear to you, call the manufacturer. Also, you should know that triclosan is sometimes called microban or irgasan. So, watch for those, too.

Triclosan is actually used in about 140 personal care and household products. For a handy guide on the types of products that might contain triclosan, check out the Environmental Working Group’s home map. It’s easy – just mousing over the house shows you exactly where to look!

Unsafe Toys 2010: What Toys To Avoid this Holiday Season, and What to Buy

Monday, December 20th, 2010


Since we don’t have the advantage of being able to test for potentially dangerous chemicals in kids’ toys, it’s fortunate that others do – and will give us the results. Each year, the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) publishes Trouble in Toyland, the report of an investigation into the safety of children’s toys. They go to stores, get lab reports, check recalls (their research has led to more than 150 recalls), and let us know what we definitely should not buy for our kids. They also give us guidance on what we should buy.

Following the most recent President’s Cancer Panel Report – which focused on the relationship between chemicals and cancer – Trouble in Toyland’s focus this year was on chemicals (although things that can be choked on are included as well – always an issue). Their list of what toys not to buy is in the Trouble in Toyland report (very worth reading all the way through), but you can get also a quick look on their Unsafe Toy List 2010.

There are only eight unsafe toys on the list, but they are definitely very popular items likely to attract many buyers and kids – including you, and yours. Check the list for the names, photographs, and so on.

What does PIRG recommend?

Avoid PVC/vinyl toys and brightly colored plastics.

Stay away from toys with small parts and from toys small enough for kids to choke on if they put it in their mouths. This includes small balls and balloons, which can completely block your child’s airway and suffocate them.

Choose toys made with unpainted wood and other natural materials like wood or cotton.

Anything colored should be verified as having used nontoxic dyes or paints.

Don’t buy costume jewelry for kids. It usually contains lead or other harmful chemicals.

Knowing your child will be safe with the toys you select for the holidays makes giving even more fun.

Enjoy!!

Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?

Monday, December 13th, 2010


pesticide residueMany parents have questions about cotton. Is regular cotton okay, or should you use organic? The major difference is pesticides – organic cotton is grown without pesticides; regular cotton is grown with them. Are residues from those pesticides still in the cotton clothing, sheets and blankets you’re using for your baby?

This is an important question if you’re concerned about your child’s health. Pesticides have been linked to several diseases and conditions, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and several types of cancer. In fact, the President’s Cancer Panel recommends that we eat organic food in order to avoid pesticide poisoning. Here’s a quote from the latest President’s Cancer Panel Report.

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

But food is not our only exposure to pesticides. As with other chemicals, residue can also become airborne. And when they do, they are in the air our babies breathe.

More pesticides are used on cotton crops than any other crop in the world – a full 25% of all pesticides used are used on cotton crops.

The good news is that by the time those cotton crops become fabric, the pesticides are gone. However, according to Debra Lynn Dadd, Queen of Green and author of Home Safe Home, there are other problems with cotton, including the cotton batting sometimes used in crib mattresses:

“Cotton batting does contain pesticide residues, if it is not organic, as it is not as processed as cotton fabric. So it is imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as in a mattress or pillow.”

Finishes and dyes on some cotton fabrics can also be a problem:

“The problem with cotton fabric is the finishes, such as a permanent press finish, which releases formaldehyde. Most fabrics of any kind have a “sizing” applied, which washes out in the first wash. Five washes is plenty to remove sizing, but no amount of washing removes permanent press. Dyes are also not a concern if they are “colorfast,” that is, they don’t bleed when you wash them.”

According to Ms. Dadd, there are also environmental reasons to use organic cotton:

“The reason to buy organic cotton is that conventionally-grown cotton uses a huge amount of the most toxic chemicals, which get into our air and water and soil, and indirectly into our bodies.”

At Naturepedic, we use only organic cotton in our crib mattresses. So you know your baby is safe from pesticide residues and the residues of other chemicals that may be used on the crops or in processing.

As for your baby’s jammies, sheets, blankets and other goodies, regular cotton is probably fine. But do find out about the dyes used and treatments or finishes such as permanent press. If it looks like the chemicals used there might not be safe, go with organic.