Bad for Baby?

No. Bad for Us.

Are common baby lotions bad for babies?

A small study conducted by the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute showed that exposure to phthalates caused reproductive problems in mice.

Lotions made for babies (and grownups) include phthalates to add the fragrance or color that separates a Johnson and Johnson shampoo from a Proctor & Gamble product.

I looked on the back of a baby shampoo bottle and found cocamidopropyl betaine, sorbitan laurate, sodium trideceth sulfate, and even the dreaded polyquaternium. Say, what? The latter would be a quater that marries several iums.

“If it’s difficult to say and it’s not commonly known, it’s probably something we should wonder about,” Dr. Lori Racha of University Pediatrics told the local Channel 3 News.

Dr. Racha says it is too early to know if those products actually harm human babies but she wants us to switch anyway. “If it smells really sweet, it’s probably not something we should be using on our babies,” she said on the news.


This is a medical doctor–a pediatrician–who wants us to make a crucial decision based on what she doesn’t know.

I can apply that technique in all facets of my life, can’t I?

The National Institutes of Health’s DailyMed reports that nadolol is a “nonselective beta-adrenergic receptor blocking agent.” It is chemically identified as “1-(tert-butylamino)-3-[(5,6,7,8-tetrahydro-cis-6,7-dihydroxy-1-naphthyl)oxy]-2-propanol.” It even contains microcrystalline cellulose.

Anybody here have any idea what all of that means? Any at all?

Yeah, yeah, I know somebody can answer yes, but Corgard® or nadolol, its generic equivalent, has been prescribed to thousands of people who have absolutely no clue about its chemical makeup, let alone any of the scientific names it has. In those patients it successfully treats their high blood pressure or prevents the chest pain called angina. A beta blocker, nadolol slows the heart rate and relaxes the blood vessels so the heart does not work as hard as it might.

I wonder. Should people with hypertension not take nadolol or its pharmacological stable mates because they cannot pronounce the ingredients? reports that experts choose the Graco SnugRide as the best infant car seat. One of the reasons is what Graco calls its “EPS Energy Absorbing Foam Liner.” EPS is the abbreviation for Expanded Polystyrene. Polystyrene is made from an aromatic monomer styrene.

Maybe that’s scary, too. Dr. Racha thinks that chemicals that smell good are bad for our babies. We’d better ban the Graco SnugRide. But, wait. Aroma therapy is all the rage. It’s supposed to be good for us. Or maybe that’s not what the aroma in aromatic means. Who knows?

What is going on here? Does Dr. Racha honestly believe that just because she thinks something might sound bad for us it really really is? When a second grader imagines that a dog ate his homework, he honestly believes that is true. One of the tests of growing up is that we stop blaming the dog.

The problem here is not whether babies should be exposed to phthalates or polystyrene.

The problem here is whether we should be exposed to fear mongering backed up by imaginary science.