Do You Know What's in Your Baby's Mattress?

10.09.09 Do You Know What's in Your Baby's Mattress?

Safer crib mattress

In this informative blog post from Healthy Child Healthy World, writer Emily Lynne Ion discusses serious health risks associated with phthalates and other chemicals found in conventional mattresses.

Most parents don’t know that their child’s crib or bed mattress poses a serious risk to healthy development.  A newborn spends between 10 and 14 hours a day lying on a crib mattress, whether sleeping, playing, or observing the world around them. Their faces press into it, causing them to breathe inches from its surface.  For the first year of your child’s life, the mattress is the central object in their environment.

Due to improper manufacturer disclosure and minimal governmental regulation, many of the items we purchase for our baby’s first room are not the healthiest.  Manufacturers are under no obligation to let the public know how they construct their products.  So, we buy bleached, chemically-treated sheets, toys covered in unsafe paint, and straight-from-the factory mattresses.  And, as Laura said, “Most of us do it because nobody told us not to.”

What exactly, then, makes up your baby’s mattress?  Let’s start on the outside and move inward.  The vinyl surface of most traditional mattresses is a hard plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a combination of chlorine and petroleum.  To soften the plastic, hormone-disrupting phthalates are added to make the mattress flexible.  Phthalates are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency as probable carcinogens and, when ingested, may interfere with, mimic, or block hormones.  Extensive studies identify hormone disruption to be most severe on the development of normal body functions.  Some of the health effects for newborn boys include hormone alteration, reproductive system defects, and low fertility.  For girls, phthalates are attributed to early on-set puberty.  Many manufacturers are removing phthalates from other children’s products, such as baby bottles and toys.  However, phthalates are not currently being removed from crib mattresses because without them they would soften and become unsafe.

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Original article: Do You Know What's In Your Baby's Mattress?
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