The 7 Parenting Controversies that Changed the Way We Raised Our Kids in 2011

Formaldehyde Derivatives Identified in Baby Shampoos

baby in bath

What happened: This spring, the National Toxicology Program released its annual "Report on Carcinogens," which for the first time named formaldehyde and its derivatives as "known carcinogens." The revelation reignited efforts by product safety groups, led by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, to demand tougher government safeguards against toxins in consumer products. At the center of the discussion that followed was Johnson & Johnson's iconic baby shampoo, which contains both the formaldehyde-releasing preservative quaternium-15, and the chemical byproduct 1,4-dioxane. In November, Johnson & Johnson announced plans to remove both chemicals from its entire product line (their more expensive "Naturals" line is already free of the chemicals).

Why it's controversial: There's vociferous debate over whether the amount of exposure a child gets from regular use of a shampoo, soap, or lotion that contains small amounts of these toxic chemicals is actually a legitimate health threat. The products under fire all comply with current government regulations, but many are calling for those regulations to be changed in light of new information about the dangers of the chemicals.

How it impacted your life: You were of two minds about the news -- horrified, on the one hand, to think you may have exposed your children to even the smallest amount of a carcinogen, but skeptical, on the other, of allegations that products that have been used for generations could be truly dangerous. Many of you did not hesitate to change shampoo and lotion brands, choosing products that are free of chemical preservatives and cleansers.

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