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HEALTH

Parents in France urged to avoid certain baby hygiene products

A leading French consumer group has warned parents about certain baby hygiene products including wipes, moisturizers and nappies that contain toxic components, including glyphosate residue, which is considered to potentially cause cancer.

Parents in France urged to avoid certain baby hygiene products
Photo: Parenting Patch/Flickr

The association 60 Million Consumers (60 Millions de Consommateurs) has studied around 155 products linked to baby hygiene and the results should make important reading for parents.

In its new study, the association looked at 12 brands of nappies, around one third of which were found to contain potentially toxic chemicals.

In nappies made by the brands Love & Green, Lotus Baby, Pommette and Lillydoo the study found they contained residues of glyphosate, a component which some studies and the World Health Organization have labelled carcinogenic.

Nappies by the brand Mots d'enfants that are found in E.Leclerc supermarkets were also flagged up for the presence of “volatile organic components” that are known to cause “skin irritations or mucous in the respiratory system”.

In its study the association notes that the levels of substances found in the nappies are very low but nevertheless the health risks associated with them “cannot be ruled out” because “newborn babies are exposed to glyphosate and other volatile organic components from other sources”. 

One of those sources is baby wipes.

The problem chemical contained in baby wipes was phenoxyethanol, which French health authorities advised against including in products for babies back in 2012 in part due to the fact it was believed to cause allergies and potentially be cancer-causing.

Since then many brands have removed phénoxyéthanol as an ingredient in baby wipes.

(Photo: Deposit photos)

But three of the 44 products tested by 60 Million Consumers were still found to contain it, including ultra-soft wipes made by the well-known label Mixa Bébé.

The association also notes that most baby wipes contain substances that can be considered “undesirable” such as irritants, perfumes or chemicals that can cause allergies because of their high use.

60 Million Consumers recommends parents use liniments, including ones which mix olive oil and limewater called Limestone Oleo.

All 17 of the liniments tested by the association were given the green light.

Problems were also raised around several moisturizers used for babies, some of which were found to contain phenoxyethanol. 

Some seven out of 47 moisturizing products tested should be banned because of their composition, said 60 Million Consumers.

Two products were singled out to be avoided: “Lait de toilette” (bath milk) by Mixa and Nivea Baby face and body moisturizer.

Brands that produce baby bath milks were also slammed for thefact  they all contained perfumes that could potentially cause allergies.

If possible parents were advised to look for moisturizers that contained no perfumes at all, but they may be hard to come by.

60 Million Consumers regularly produce studies looking at dangerous substances in everyday products.

In the past French consumer watchdog groups such as 60 Million Consumers and UFC-Que Chosir have warned the public about the dangers of cosmetic products and supermarket foods.

Banned substances found in over 140 cosmetic products sold in France

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HEALTH

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25

Free birth control for all women under 25 will be available in France from Saturday, expanding a scheme targeting under-18s to ensure young women don't stop taking contraception because they cannot afford it.

France brings in free contraception for all women aged 18-25
A doctor holds an interuterine contraceptive device (IUD) before inserting it in a patient. Photo: Adek Berry/AFP

The scheme, which could benefit three million women, covers the pill, IUDs, contraceptive patches and other methods composed of steroid hormones. Contraception for minors was already free in France.

Several European countries, including Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway, make contraception free for teens. Britain makes several forms of contraception free to all.

France announced the extension to women under 25 in September, saying surveys showed a decline in the use of contraception mainly for financial reasons.

The move is part of a series of measures taken by President Emmanuel Macron’s government to boost women’s rights and alleviate youth poverty. The free provision is supported by women’s groups including the association En Avant Tous.

“Between 18 and 25-years-old, women are very vulnerable because they lose a lot of rights compared to when they were minors and are very precarious economically,” spokeswoman Louise Delavier told AFP.

Leslie Fonquerne, an expert in gender issues, said there was more to be done.

“This measure in no way resolves the imbalance in the contraceptive burden between women and men,” the sociologist said.

In some developed countries, the free contraception won by women after decades of campaigning is coming under attack again from the religious right.

In the United States, former president Barack Obama’s signature health reform, known as Obamacare, gave most people with health insurance free access to birth control.

But his successor Donald Trump scrapped the measure, allowing employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage on religious grounds — a decision upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Poland’s conservative government has also heavily restricted access to emergency contraception as part of its war on birth control.

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