In recent years, fashion designers have us dressing our children in colorful painted and plastic printed clothing. Also popular are clothing and accessories that resist stains and and water.
But researchers are finding that these items may present unexpected health risks. Clothing from companies such as Disney, Burberry and GAP, among others, have been found to contain some very troublesome chemicals, including nonylphenol ethoxylates, phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, chemical dyes and flame retardants. These chemicals, alone or in combination, have been shown to interfere with normal hormonal, immune and reproductive systems, especially in our youngest children.
My personal opinion…why take the chance? Kids are active, they need comfortable clothes that breathe and move with them. A growing number of children’s clothing designers and manufacturers are taking the lead and switching from non-absorbent petroleum-based polyester decorated fabrics to cotton, even organic cotton! Note: be sure to wash all new clothing before wearing, because even cotton is usually treated with some kind of chemical sizing to help keep it’s “new look” in the stores.
And what about plastic shoes? Apparently, this is also something parents need to think about. A recent study found that plastic shoes may contain benzopyrene (a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH)) and phthalates. Dermatologists say that PAHs can be absorbed through the skin, so they recommend that children wear socks to reduce contact. Phthalates, while not easily absorbed through the skin, may be inhaled. To make matters worse, there is no way to know which shoes contain these chemicals. I recommend canvas sneakers and leather sandals or shoes. Another thing to add to our checklist of chemical exposures to avoid? The reality is that some kids actually suck on shirt or pajama sleeves and hoodie ties and hats. But shoes? To everyone’s horror, our youngest family member came toddling in from the “mud room” last weekend, happily sucking on the sole of a shoe that he had found! Fashion trouble from head to toe!