Beware those diapers; they could be toxic, parents warn. But are they really? That’s what the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) intends to find out. The consumer watchdog agency launched an investigation last week into Pampers diapers with the new Dry Max technology, a thinner, more absorbent diaper material innovation, because parents have reported that the new diapers seem to cause rashes and chemical burns. Are the new Proctor & Gamble (P&G) diapers really dangerous, or is this simply a case of a loud minority?
P&G Stands by Dry Max
According to Scott Wolfson, the CPSC director of public affairs, diaper maker Proctor and Gamble is sharing its safety data with the agency and stands by its product. Reuters reports:
"There's no evidence that a single baby has experienced a serious skin safety issue as a result of Dry Max," said Bryan McCleary, a spokesman for P&G baby care division.
Some parents complain that severe diaper rash appeared after switching to the new versions of Cruisers and Swaddlers with the new material. However, McCleary said this level of complaints is expected.
"It's one severe rash complaint for every 6 million diaper changes," McCleary said.
Pediatric dermatologists contacted by Pampers confirmed the company's findings that the product is as safe as the previous version. Among them are Dr. Loraine Stern, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the UCLA School of Medicine.
"I have seen absolutely no increase in rashes since the introduction of the newer model," Stern wrote in a statement provided to Reuters by Pampers. "The pictures on the Internet show what look like classical rashes, not chemical burns. I have full confidence in recommending that my patients continue to use Pampers with Dry Max."
Are Facebook-Fed Fears Behind the Hype?
Dr. Kimberly Thompson, founder of Kids Risk, Inc. and adjunct associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health called the concerns over Dry Max overblown.
“I am concerned that a small group of online Facebook activists appear to be spreading sensational accusations and making unsubstantiated claims connecting a new diaper product to severe diaper rash. Using nonfactual and scary terms like ‘chemical burns’ that lead to emotional reactions, and based only on a relatively small number of personal experiences and no scientific data, the group appears to be creating an urban legend that has led some mainstream media to unfairly question the safety of the new Pampers Dry Max diapers.”
She says that the diapers are safe, as evidenced by the more than 2.2 billion Pampers diapers sold to date with the new technology without any increased level of complaints about diaper rash.
It’s an interesting world we are living in — digital, connected, instant. If anything, this diaper incident is a study in proactive customer service. I wonder if P&G wishes they would have paid more attention to that pesky group of dissatisfied consumers banding together in a Facebook group.
If you have complaints or comments about the new Pampers you are asked to contact the CPSC via its online incident report (https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx) or the toll-free number (800) 638-2772.