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A new study suggests chemicals found in some baby powders, shampoos, and lotions expose infants to dangerous toxins that could later affect their reproductive capabilities. Phthalates, the chemicals in question, are commonly used to make plastics flexible and to also stabilize fragrances. They are commonly found in many products such as toys, cosmetics, vinyl flooring, and medical supplies. The study showed an elevated amount of phthalates in the urine of babies who had used the powders, shampoos, and lotions.

United States officials are still investigating what harm the phthalates cause since there has been no direct evidence that the chemicals led to birth defects in humans. California and a few other countries, on the other hand, limit the use of the chemical since the animal studies they conducted have shown reproductive birth defects in the subjects given the phthalates. Experts say specialized baby shampoos and lotions are not needed, but if a parent would like to use such products they should look for products labeled “phthalate-free” or without such common phthalates as DEP and DEHP. Parents should exercise extreme caution, however, because companies are not required by the Food and Drug Administration to put phthalate ingredients on their fragrance containers since no sufficient evidence against phthalates has been found.

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