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Your Convenience or Baby's Health?

Posted by Cloth Diaper Blog Guest on 11/24/2008 to Cloth vs. Disposables
With a New Year fast upon us, there will be countless discussions about change - about making this next year the best year yet. Some want to lose weight, others want to improve relationships, still others want to be more disciplined in their approach to eating, exercise, and the balance of work. Resolutions are pondered and put on paper as many of us look for small, bite-size ways to improve the quality of our lives. If you are a parent of a diapered child, I have one more suggested resolution to consider on your growing list; the choice to cloth diaper your baby. I challenge you to cloth diaper your baby, because face it - our baby's current and potential health is more important than our own personal convenience.

The Leap to Cloth Diapering

In "Part 3: For my baby's health" Virginia Blanco writes about The Leap to Cloth Diapering. Her daughter experienced uncontrollable diaper rash, so at her pediatrician's recommendation, and after a bit of her own research, Blanco switched to cloth diapers.
"…disposable diapers contain in them traces of various toxic chemical substances which come from the processing of the paper and plastic used in their manufacture, to specific chemicals intentionally added to them." - Virginia Blanco
The article details what Blanco learned about the potential health risks of disposable diapers, "It turns out disposable diapers contain in them traces of various toxic chemical substances which come from the processing of the paper and plastic used in their manufacture, to specific chemicals intentionally added to them."Knowing the research helped Blanco to make more informed choices and reduce her baby's unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals. And though she admits she has not completely eliminated the use of disposable diapers, she limits their usage.

Diaper Anatomy

When Darshani Sukumaran was looking for her own answers about disposable diapers, she actually cut the diaper open. In her article, "The Anatomy of a Disposable Diaper -v- Cloth Diaper", she shares photos of the "very slimy to the touch" inner core of a disposable diaper where "the gel beads stuck to [her] fingers." She follows that up with a photo of the inner layer of a "thick 'prefold' diaper made of 100% cotton." The gel beads Sukumaran refers to are also known as SAP, or Sodium Polyacrylate. The Real Diaper Association's Diaper Facts describe SAP as "a type of super absorbent polymer, which becomes a gel-like substance when wet." In their own research, RDA discovered "A similar substance had been used in super-absorbency tampons until the early 1980s when it was revealed that the material increased the risk of toxic shock syndrome."Sukumaran's personal experience? "I have heard several mothers who use cloth diapers, who have used disposables for trips sometimes, say that the disposables have a much stronger odor than cloth, probably because of the gel that concentrates the urine. They also leak a lot more often than cloth diapers."

Why risk it?

I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I do understand the kind of money that disposable diapers generate. Blanco wrote that over 95 percent of U.S. families use disposable diapers; THAT is a LOT of money. The manufacturers of these diapers are going to drum-down, not drum-up, any negative side effects - it hurts their business not to do so. The same can be said of online cloth diaper store owners, of course. Obviously, the owner of this blog has a vested interest in cloth diapers, albeit a significantly less financial interest, as the owner of the online cloth diaper store, Diaper Junction.Still, the facts are inescapable. For instance, there is a known relationship between diaper emissions and asthma. The Archive of Environmental Health published findings from Anderson Laboratories, Inc. on the acute respiratory effects of diaper emissions: "Disposable diapers should be considered as one of the factors that might cause or exacerbate asthmatic conditions."Other Diaper Facts can be found in Blanco's sources, as well as at Real Diaper Association website.This New Year consider a resolution much more precious than those extra ten pounds hanging around, choose to consider your baby's health. As Blanco said, "Don’t follow trends just for the sake of convenience. Our children are too precious."