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Sunday, 22 April 2012 16:36

The Facts of Disposable Diapers

Written by  Muscat Midwife
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Cloth Diapers in the 21st century – the way forward or a step backwards?

In a modern world where everything is easy and disposable, why would you even consider using cloth diapers that need WASHING? Eeeuw! I get an image of dirty smelly diapers soaking in buckets next to the bathroom, not to mention the hassle of daily washing and drying. Why bother?

Well, there are several reasons to bother, but the health benefits to your baby rank top of my list.

Chemicals in Disposable Diapers


Let’s start with the chemicals that are used in disposable diapers – those lovely white throw away nappies don’t start off white. They go through a bleaching process when they are created. DIOXIN is a highly toxic by-product used in the bleaching process and is the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. Dioxin has been known to cause birth defects, skin disease and liver damage.


Have you noticed how thin disposable nappies are these days? It is great for holiday packing and they are still so absorbent thanks to SODIUM POLYACRYLATE GEL …if you have ever seen that clear gel-like stuff (beads) on your babies’ genitals – that’s it. This substance was banned from use in tampons in 1985 because it was linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and yet it is still used in disposables. Go figure?

Many employees who worked in factories producing Polyacrylate suffer from female organ damage, fatigue and weight loss. No long term studies have been conducted to assess the risks of 24/7 exposure to this compound on a babies vulnerable genitals.
Due to its extreme absorbency, this chemical has been found to draw moisture from the skin, causing severe nappy rash and bleeding of perineal and scrotal tissue. Sodium Polyacrylate is also lethal to cats when inhaled.

Shocking isn’t it? But wait, there is more.


This chemical  is ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the most toxic substances in consumer products in the world today. The function of this chemical is to kill bacteria. Independent tests carried out by Greenpeace found that this hormone disrupting chemical was present in quantities as high as 38.4 micrograms of TBT per kilogram in Procter & Gamble’s “Pampers® Baby Dry” nappies in the belt section as well as in the inner and outer layers. They also found other organotin compounds such as DBT (Dibutylin) and MBT Monobutylin – totaling 53.2 micrograms per kilogram.

Diapers Linked to Infertility

If this information is not sobering enough, if you have a boy-child, studies linking male infertility to disposable usage should really sway your thinking towards alternative nappying choices. Since disposables are lined with plastic causing an increase in scrotal temperature, impairing the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles, it is thought that their use could affect normal scrotal development. The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life…the reason testes are external is that they need to be cooler than the rest of the body in order for this to happen. Studies conducted at the University of Kiel by Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of pediatrics, concluded:

A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, withimplications for male fertility. Furthermore, “Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels and are continuing to decline as fast as 2% a year.”   

Diapers and Asthma                       

Last but by no means least – the asthma epidemic! Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathing the diluted chemical mixtures.  ''Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,'' according to the paper. Although Anderson stated that it was too early to tell whether these chemicals trigger asthma-like responses until a vast amount of human data had been accumulated, she did say the following: "Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing.  When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action. She suggests that (parents) and doctors... believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.''

PLEASE take a moment to consider your good intentions for your children, which include keeping them as far from harm as possible.





SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.      

Read 11559 times Last modified on Thursday, 26 April 2012 14:09
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