The disposable -v- cloth diaper debate has raged since the first disposable diaper made its way to the grocery shelves. Each camp promotes their product with veracity - citing inconclusive evidence at times, and sensationalizing or de-sensationalizing different features, risks, health issues, and environmental issues.If the domain name and blog contents aren't readily obvious, we want you to know that we promote cloth diapers over disposable diapers, period. That includes the "natural" diapers found in your local Health Food Store, and the gDiapers that are being passed off as an alternative to both cloth and disposables.Without detailing the vast array of reasons why we choose cloth (at least not in this post), we feel you should know/understand what is IN a disposable diaper ... y'know the goopy stuff that magically absorbs all the urine your baby can pee into it. The active agent is a chemical; A CHEMICAL. This chemical is commonly noted as an acronym, SAP, and it stands for Super Absorbent Polymers. Doesn't sound too bad, right?Super Absorbent Polymers are absorbent beads that will absorb and hold liquid - lots of liquid - hence, their popularity as an ingredient in disposable diapers. Because of its absorbency, the manufacturers of disposable diapers have upped their disposable diaper recipes to include more and more of this polymer.
SAPs, used initially in the US in the late 1960s by the United States Department of Agriculture, were first used in diapers in Japan, in 1982. The original superabsorbent diapers contained five to six grams of SAPs per diaper. Today's new, thinner disposables have less wood pulp and more SAPs: 10 to 15 grams per diaper. Superabsorbent diapers currently on sale at natural grocery stores contain SAPs.A closer look, however, doesn't render them as safe an option as their manufacturers and the disposable diaper companies promote.
SAPs can cause severe skin infections or worse. In the 1980s, SAPs were removed from superabsorbent tampons because the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome.But that was the 1980s, right? What about 20 years later? Surely they've decreased the risk of this chemical that is exposed to our baby's skin all day long for up to 3 years of their lives, right?
A study in the September 1999 issue of Archives of Environmental Health found that laboratory mice exposed to various brands of throwaway diapers suffered eye, nose, and throat irritation, including bronchoconstriction similar to that resulting from an asthma attack. The lead author of the study advised asthmatic mothers to avoid exposure to the chemicals found in most throwaway diapers.SAP in disposable diapers is important to consider. Continue reading about SAP in Disposable Diapers, as well as other aspects in the disposable -v- cloth diaper debate, in Peggy O'Mara's editorial, A Tale of Two Diapers, at Mothering magazine online..