Baby powder has been used for such a long time as part of baby diapering care to prevent diaper rash. With all that has been in the news over the past one to two years, you may wonder, “Is baby powder OK for my baby?”
The talc in baby powder is what causes concern for baby powder use. Baby powder’s traditional use in baby care is with diaper changes to prevent diaper rash.
There has concern regarding a possible link between talcum powder and cancer. In recent news, there have been many lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson regarding one of their products that contains talcum powder (without asbestos) and that is commonly used in a woman’s genital area. There are 2 forms of talc – one containing asbestos and one without asbestos. The talc that is used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and women’s products is talc without asbestos. According to the American Cancer Society, the primary concern is whether individuals exposed to the talc mineral such as talc miners are at higher risk of lung cancer as a result of breathing the talc mineral (with asbestos) in. The talc that miners are exposed to can have bits of asbestos in them, and asbestos has been linked to lung cancer. Currently, the American Cancer Society notes that no increased risk of lung cancer has been reported with consumer use of talcum powder.
The question of ovarian cancer risk among women who use talcum powder has not been settled, because some studies have shown a small increased risk while other studies have shown none. Currently, the American Cancer Society advises that women may want to avoid or limit the use of talc-based products.
Now, let’s bring up the question again- Is it OK to use baby powder on my baby? The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend using baby powder because of the respiratory risk that the talc poses. The talc-based powders are made of fine particles that can be inhaled, resulting in respiration irritation, inflammation, and chronic respiratory issues due to granuloma formation. Powders with the larger particle-sized cornstarch are thought to be safer but these powders can cause similar respiratory issues if inhaled. Premature babies or babies with underlying medical issues, such as asthma, should avoid any baby powder. If your baby is healthy and you want to use a baby powder, apply the powder on your hands first away from your baby. Apply the powder (avoiding the baby’s head) and wipe away any excess powder after application.
You can avoid baby powder use all together. In place of baby powder to prevent diaper rash, you can use creams or ointments with zinc oxide. These products will serve as barrier protection to prevent the dreaded diaper rash.