We all know that the smell of a freshly bathed and diapered baby is one of the best smells on earth. In fact, many companies try to reproduce that smell in their products. One of the fragrances you commonly see is baby powder. Ah, what a great smell! However, the use of baby powder itself has raised some concerns with the medical community. Is baby powder safe? Here’s the scoop on the use of baby powder.
Baby Powder and Respiratory Problems
Traditionally baby powder has been used during diaper changes to prevent diaper rash. Baby powder is most commonly made out of talc, a mineral composed of silica, magnesium, and oxygen. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend using baby powder because of the respiratory risk of the powders. The talc-based powders are made of fine particles that can be inhaled, resulting in respiration irritation, inflammation, and chronic respiratory issues due to inflammation in the tissue. Powders with larger particles such as cornstarch are thought to be safer, but these powders can cause similar respiratory issues if inhaled. For premature babies or babies with underlying medical issues such as asthma, baby powder is not safe and should be avoided.
Talc-Based Powders and Cancer
There have also been suggestions concerning a possible link between talcum powder and cancer. 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 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.
Women and Talcum Powder
There is also a concern of talcum powder use in women when applying it to the genital area. 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.
Be cautious of your baby powder use due to the respiratory concerns. Creams or ointments with zinc oxide are safer options to prevent diaper rash. These products will serve as a barrier to keep your baby’s skin protected from the causes of diaper rash. If you decide you want to use baby powder and your baby is healthy, apply the powder on your hands first, away from your baby. Apply the powder to the baby (avoiding the baby’s head) and wipe away any excess powder after application.
We hope this information is useful in keeping your baby healthy and happy.
~The Baby Pibu™ Team
American Cancer Society