What are your concerns?

Hard to understand


Or copy link


Experts Push to Ban These Harmful Chemicals in Baby Care and Other Plastic Products

Experts Push to Ban These Harmful Chemicals in Baby Care and Other Plastic Products

Project TENDR insists on banning one class of synthetic chemicals found in plastics as it causes damages to babies’ brains. What do parents need to know about these harmful chemicals in plastic baby products?

Project TENDR and Their Advocacy

Project TENDR, which means Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks, is a group of professionals–child advocates, health experts, and volunteer scientists–aiming to reduce, if not totally eliminate, children’s exposure to toxic pollutants and chemicals.

Lead author Stephanie Engel, who is also a professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, reported that they already have “enough evidence” to be alarmed by the effects of phthalates, a class of synthetic chemicals, to the learning, attention, and behavior of kids.

Former director of the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences Linda Birnbaum also showed concern, even though she was not involved in the study.

She emphasized that if various investigators conducted different studies in numerous populations using multiple instruments and they still came up with the same findings, then the “data is pretty clear.”

Phthalates, the “Everywhere Chemicals”

One of the things that worry health professionals the most is that phthalates, the harmful chemicals, are not just found in plastic baby products. You can find it everywhere and perhaps get exposed to it on a daily basis.

Also called “plasticizers,” phthalates make products more flexible and harder to break; we can also use some phthalates as solvents.

And while some policies already banned these harmful chemicals in plastic baby products, children’s exposure is still possible because manufacturers also use them in:

  • Vinyl floorings
  • Detergents
  • Lubricating oils
  • Personal care products, like soaps and shampoos
  • Automotive plastics
  • Rain-resistant clothes, such as raincoats and other plastic clothes
  • Furniture
  • Food packaging

harmful chemicals in plastic baby products

Phthalates Damage Babies’ Brain Development

The issue with phthalates chemicals is that exposure to it could result in long-lasting neurodevelopmental conditions in fetuses, infants, and children.

Reports highlight that:

  • Kids whose mothers have high levels of phthalates in their urine during the 2nd trimester were almost three times more at risk of developing ADHD than kids whose mothers have low phthalates levels in the same stage.
  • Another study concluded that children exposed to higher levels of phthalates while in their mothers’ wombs had an IQ that was up to 7 points lower than kids with less exposure.
  • In one investigation, the researchers found out that these chemicals also “alter” the thyroid hormone levels. They explained that thyroid hormone is crucial in neuronal migration and differentiation, the formation of synapses, and overall brain cell growth.

Various studies highlighted that there are strong associations between phthalates chemicals exposure and:

Meanwhile, the Phthalates Factsheet issued by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mentioned that “exposure to low levels of phthalates are unknown.” However, some kinds of phthalates have affected the reproductive system of laboratory animals.

Why Project TENDR Pushes for Elimination

Project TENDR pushes for the elimination of phthalates because our bodies metabolize the chemicals more rapidly than other toxic substances. And if the harmful effects occur in the baby’s developing brain inside the uterus, the damage might be irreversible.

Critics argue that there might be some loopholes. They highlight that the studies showing neurodevelopmental harm have only been conducted in animals. On the other hand, studies focusing on young kids lean toward behavioral issues, where many other factors may come into play.

But Birnbaum countered that clinical trials would not intentionally expose babies and children to such potentially harmful chemicals.

How to Protect Your Babies and Children

Will parents be able to totally protect their children from harmful chemicals in plastic baby products? It may be challenging to do so, considering the number of items that contain them. However, it can help to always read product labels.

Reports say manufacturers are required to list phthalates in the ingredients unless they use it for scents. As an added protective measure, don’t forget to check for other harmful chemicals such as Bisphenol A or BPA.

Learn more about Baby Care here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Developmental neurotoxicity of ortho-phthalate diesters: Review of human and experimental evidence
Accessed February 22, 2021

Phthalates Factsheet
Accessed February 22, 2021

Chemicals in plastics damage babies’ brains and must be banned immediately, expert group says
Accessed February 22, 2021

Chemical threats
Accessed February 22, 2021

Is plastic a threat to your health?
Accessed February 22, 2021

Picture of the authorbadge
Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated a week ago
Medically reviewed by Elfred Landas, M.D.