I want to begin this article by saluting all the moms that are doing their best to take care of their children. As a mother, I must admit that it can be quite difficult to keep up with the ever-increasing demands of some babies ranging from food to attention.
Sometimes, in a bid to pacify a crying baby, some parents and nannies resort to giving the baby a piece of sucking device made from plastic materials generally referred to as ‘pacifiers’. Before I share my thoughts on why you should think again before giving that baby a pacifier, I would like share my motivation for this article.
Recently, I came across an academic article that reports that ‘phthalates’ and ‘microplastics’ are found in infant and adult faeces. The worrying and most concerning aspect to me was the fact that the quantity of these substances found in infants were higher than that of the adults.
What are phthalates? These are one of the major components of plastics. In the other hand, microplastics in its simplicity are very tiny plastics, for example, plastic particles from synthetic clothes, tyres, plastic materials, etc.
You can read the full article that I mentioned above. The article got me thinking about the various ways that babies can get these dangerous substances into their system. One of the possible ways are via ‘pacifiers’.
You might argue that most of these products are labelled BPA or TPA ‘free’. Yes, I agree with you but I would suggest that you take any ‘label’ with a pinch of salt until otherwise proven.
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First, let me explain some possible sources and ways that children can ingest this dangerous chemical into their bodies.
Through feeding bottles which are mostly plastics. Most of the food and drinks that are served to babies in these plastic bottles are slightly warm. This provides a more favourable condition for these materials to be absorbed into their food or drinks.
Warming children’s food in a microwave with plastic materials. Often times, people throw in plastic materials into the microwave without thinking about the implications even when they have an alternative material such as ceramic, etc which are safer.
Plastic toys used by children. Most of the toys around children are made from plastics and synthetic material which can contain these components.
Plastic materials around the house that babies latch on in a bid to explore their environment.
Pacifiers are one of the devices that are given to children to suck in other to pacify them or as a placebo to the real feeder.
Sterilisation of feeding bottles and plastic dishes for children using hot water.
The following are the reasons one should be concerned about this group of chemicals in the body.
#1. They are potential carcinogenic chemicals.
This means that they can possibly trigger or influence cancer development in human bodies. When a substance is labelled ‘carcinogenic’, it does not mean that it automatically causes cancer rather it means that such substance has the potential to do so. Again, so many factors come into play such as the biochemistry, food habits, lifestyle, environment, of the person that ingest such chemical. If you allow me to think out loud, I would suggest that some of the cancers reported in children may be linked to such materials.
#2. It can cause infertility.
As mentioned, these substances can influence hormone in human bodies, especially hormones related to the reproductive process. Such alteration or modification of the normal hormonal system can cause infertility problems. I should warn that there is a complex interplay of different factors here too. There are reported cases of chemicals causing infertility in populations, e.g., the case of endocrine disruptors such as some pesticides. For more information on this, you can start with this research article here.
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#3. It can lead to hormonal imbalances.
Human bodies functions by a very sophisticated communication network involving the cells, brain, spinal cord and a dense network of nerves. For these human units to effectively communicate, chemicals in the body play a major role. Among these chemicals are hormone. Hormone controls many functions in the human system, and any alteration of these hormones can impact some functions, growth and development of the human body.
Phthalates can influence some hormones which in turn can cause hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalances are part of the root cause of some sicknesses.
#4. It can modify or alter the functions of other organs in the body.
To buttress the previous point, not just that normal imbalances can cause sickness, they can permanently alter the original functions of some organs. I have read cases whereby people’s growth was altered or some organs malfunction because of some hormone-altering chemicals.
Another example of how powerful hormone-influencing chemical can be is the advancement in human reproduction systems. Think about the chemicals that are used in inducing labour during child birth, contraception, harvesting eggs for IVF treatment, boosting sperm counts. How about people that are using such chemical to enlarge their butts and boobs. Be aware of these group of chemicals!
"When a substance is labelled ‘carcinogenic’, it does not mean that it automatically causes cancer rather it means that such substance has the potential to do so."
#5. It can lead to stomach / food problems for children.
Digestion problems are every common issue that infants have. Ingesting unnecessary chemical into the human body can lead to food digestion problems in some children. As my golden rule, I don’t support that people should take in chemicals that their bodies do not need. Prevent your children from ingesting any substance that can potentially expose them to these problems.
I hope this article brought insights to you on the potential toxicity of phthalates in the human body. Let’s be weary of these groups of substances because it can cause far more damaging effects than we think. I will recommend this book if you are interested in a related topic: “Count down” by Dr. Shanna H. Swan with Stacey Colino. This book summarises how our modern world is threatening sperm counts, altering male and female reproductive development, and imperilling the future of the human race.
Let’s dazzle as you take great care of your babies. Try as much as possible to help babies avoid ingesting microplastics in our environment.