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Cosmétiques bébés sous surveillance

French commission for Sustainable Development asks young mothers to no longer accept free baby gift boxes, an article published by French newspaper Le Monde

14.10.2008 |Le Monde

Le C2ds appelle les maternités à "refuser de distribuer des boîtes naissance". Ces jolies mallettes remplies d'échantillons de produits cosmétiques pour bébé sont offertes depuis longtemps aux jeunes mamans. Faut-il revenir au gant de toilette et au savon de Marseille pour la toilette des bébés ?

Sans tomber dans le manichéen tout ou rien, le toxicologue Jean-François Narbonne en appelle au "bon sens" : "Limiter les expositions en changeant les comportements ou en achetant des produits alternatifs." Un regard attentif sur les étiquettes permet de trouver, par exemple, des lotions ou des lingettes sans paraben. Et le prix ne change rien à l'affaire. Vu dans un hypermarché : 80 lingettes premier prix à 0,95 euro et 63 lingettes de marque renommée à 3,47 euros. Composition en parabens ? Identique !
Lire l'article complet en francais ici

The Comite for Sustainable Development in Health is calling on women to refuse new baby gift packages at the hospital. These lovely boxes full of baby care products have been given to young mothers for a long time. Must we go back to the washcloth and bar soap for washing our kids?

Without taking a side, toxicologist Jean-Francois Narbonne called for good sense to prevail: “Limit exposures in changing your practices or in buying alternative products.” A careful look at the labels will reveal whether or not a lotion or wipes have parabens in them. Price does not indicate whether a product is healthful or not. Just look in the supermarket: 80 wipes for .95 euro or 63 for 3.47 euros – each has the exact same amount of parabens!

Cosigned by medical researchers, including toxicologist Andre Cicolella, cancer expert Dominique Belpomme, and pediatrician and endocrinologist Charles Sultan – the conclusions of the study will be anxiety-inducing for mothers who daily use convenient wipes to wash their baby’s bottom and who bathe them from head to toe in ‘body wash” or other ‘shower gel for hair and body.’
For many years, cosmetic lines were not all that different for babies than they were for adults. Lotions for the body or face, shower gel, conditioner, diaper cremes, body spray, sensitive wipes, “soft and care”.. all promising to ‘protect baby’s skin”, “clinically tested”, “doctor approved”.. One has to be truly motivated to read the list of ingredients used and, when one does, one has to be a chemist to decipher words like phenoxyethanol, méthylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, isobutylparaben, EDTA, etc., which preserve and stabilize the product and increase its absorption. “A good number of the chemical substances used are endocrine disruptors,” explained M. Cicolella, which could, he said, “contribute to fertility problems, birth defects, neurological disorders and in the future - cancer.” Although the different substances have been tested, and although the amounts used are very small, the researchers decried the lack of attention to the combined effects of all these chemicals.” In the case of cosmetics, it’s not the dose that makes the poison, but repeated and long duration exposure, said M. Delpomme.

The Industry was quick to respond. “We only use authorized ingredients according to the rules put forth by the French and European authorities.” With the exception of mixtures, the chemicals are well tested and the amounts used are considered with a great degree of precaution.” Said Fabrice Nesslany, toxicologist with the Pasteur Institute in Lille. The French regulatory agency for health products (Afssaps), charged with enforcement, did not respond until the 7th of October to the Committee’s announcement, promising to “strengthen the controls on cosmetic products targeting children 3 and under.” Jean Marimbert, general director of L’Afssaps, recognizes that “the question of mixtures is a very interesting new issue. We must look into it.”
Unlike pharmaceuticals, cosmetics are not subject to approval before going on the market. The responsibility lies with the manufacturer to put together a “technical background file.”  But how to access the data is unclear. Due to “trade secrets,” “we don’t have access to key formulas and concentration levels”, explained Catherine Desmars, director of evaluation of cosmetic products at L’Afssaps. “We can’t ban a product in the absence of any proof of harm,” she said. It was after a suite serious side effects (convulsions, absences) that l’Afssaps, in August, banned the use of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol in products for children under 3. It is the accumulation of toxic substances in the body that makes the effect all the more insidious. “It’s not acceptable to wait 30 or 40 years to see if these chemicals have repercussions for human health, we must act in the name of precaution, said M. Cicolella.
In reality, the acceptable exposure for a person is 100 times less than the strongest dose considered to have no effect on animals. Professor of toxicology at the CNRS- Bordeaux-I laboratory, Jean-Francois Narbonne regrets that health agencies base acceptable doses on old journal publications. “The development of molecular biology tools revealed dangers we didn’t see before; we must review our evaluation and risk criteria based on modern toxicological methods,“ he insists. “I am focused on the problem of multiple exposures,” said M. Marimbert. “Certain chemicals used in cosmetics can also be present in our environment.”

Sandrine Blanchard
Will our environment become more and more damaging after birth? “Cancer in diapers”, “Contaminants in baby bottles”, the headlines in mid September created quite a shock, the release by the Cmte for sustainable development in health denounces a ‘toxic cocktail,’ having analyzed the composition of personal care products for babies.
French group, le comité pour le dévélopement durable en santé (C2ds) have launched a campaign on baby cosmetics. Full page article in Le Monde (15 Oct 2008) quotes Prof. Belpomme.

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