Monday, September 16, 2013

Talcuim Powder or Cornstach?

Last night Oma and Opa enjoyed watching their kleinzoon (grandson), Reef Indy. This session was much more tranquil. Reef only got fussy once when he was hungry and  after each bowel movement.

Since Reef’s mommy is breast-feeding, Reef’s poop is mustard colored, seedy, and runny. His diaper area looked a tad irritated and chances were Reef was starting to develop a little diaper rash. The best defense against diaper rash is a dry bottom, so Oma changed Reef’s diaper as soon as possible after it became wet or soiled.

Disposable diapers have come a long way since 1961 when Victor Mills, a P&G chemical engineer, first created a disposable diaper to help him better care for his own grandson. The Pampers we are using have a “Color-changing Wetness Indicator” which makes wetness detection much easier. When the yellow line on Reef’s diaper changes to a blue line, Oma knows it is time to change Reef’s diaper; sure beats placing a finger inside a soiled diaper!

Reef Indy - Age 9 Days

Since Reef is a natural baby – Oma put a little organic corn starch on his bottom between changings. Oma heard that talcum powder dust could be harmful to a child's lungs. Therefore, we chose to use cornstarch. Oma put the cornstarch onto her hand, away from Reef’s face (never directly on or near him) and gently rubbed the corn starch on his bottom to help absorb moisture.*

Reef Indy's Dad & Mom

When Mommy and Daddy returned to collect Baby Reef Indy, he was happy and serenely sleeping in his swing.

*At every diaper change, carefully wash away any powder that accumulates in the folds of your child's skin.

Talcum powder is usually made up of various combinations of zinc stearate, magnesium silicates, as well as other silicates which are finely ground. The size of particles is so small that they are both easily carried in the air like dust and can reach even the smallest areas of the lung.

There have been numerous reports of babies having life-threatening episodes from inhaling the powder. And in fact, there have been many deaths reported from aspiration of the powder. A good number of these cases occurred during a diaper change when adult supervision is usually very high. But as every parent knows (including myself), infants and toddlers can be awfully quick sometimes, so reaching for and spilling the powder bottle is not such a hard thing to do for the little ones.

So, clearly talc can cause pneumonia, inflammation (or swelling) of the airways of babies, and even death. But what about cancer? When the link to asbestos and cancer came to light, it was noticed that a lot of the exposure to asbestos was accompanied by other inhalable fibers and dust including talc. However, a specific link to talc exposure and lung cancer has not been established. On the other hand, there has been some interesting research into a possible link of talc to ovarian cancer. (Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician)

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