Wet wipes may be harmful to infants, say experts

PHOTO: Wet wipes may be harmful to infants, say experts

HA NOI - Parents should exercise caution when using wet wipes on their babies because of potentially harmful chemicals contained in some brands of moist towelettes, health experts have warned.

The announcement follows the withdrawal of several brands of baby wipes produced by Progressive Enterprises Ltd - an Australian-owned company operating in New Zealand - after revelations they contained a restricted chemical that could pose a health risk.

The chemical iodopropynyl buty-lcarbamate (IPBC), which was originally used as a paint and wood preservative, has been found in wet wipes in Viet Nam. Most of the products were either domestically made or imported from Thailand and Japan.

Nguyen Phan Chinh, from Quality Assurance and Testing Centre No 3, said wet wipes, especially towelettes made for infants, should be thoroughly tested for potentially harmful chemicals before being sold on the market.

Dr Nguyen Linh, from Ha Dong General Hospital's Department of Paediatrics, said parents used wet wipes to clean their infants because they were convenient.

However, he warned that scented wet wipes could induce an allergic reaction in those with sensitive skins.

"The chemicals might cause itching or other types of allergic reaction in newborns' sensitive skin." He also said parents should avoid using them to clean baby girls' genital area.

Linh also warned that bacteria could quickly grow in wet wipes that were left exposed to the air.

Nguyen Thu Trang, mother of twin two-year-old daughters, said the first time she used scented wet wipes on her babies they developed a rash.

"I stopped using wet wipes and cleansed them with water and medical bandages," she said. However, Trang said she used unscented wet wipes to clean their runny noses or dirty mouths.

Nguyen Viet Cuong, chief inspector of Ha Noi's Department of Health, said manufacturers of wet wipes should clearly state on the packaging what chemicals were in their moist towelettes.

However, the Health Department said it had not received any complaints from the public or the medical profession.

Health experts advise parents to use damp cotton towels and warm water instead of wet wipes to cleanse children under three years old to avoid potential skin problems.