You might have heard about a recent study linking the development of food allergies to baby wipes. But before you throw away your towelettes for fear of dooming your kids or grandkids to a lifetime of avoiding peanut butter, it’s worth hitting the pause button and learning what the study actually says.
The April 2018 research, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology30233-1/fulltext), found a link between food allergies and a mix of environmental and genetic factors that must coexist to trigger said allergies. According to researchers, one of the factors included in the mix is the use of infant cleansing wipes that leave soap on the skin. Also included are genetics that change skin absorbency and skin exposure to certain allergens in dust and foods. Considering how many parents and grandparents use baby wipes to cleanse young kids during the day, it’s not surprising that this is one of the most alarming pieces of information grabbing headlines all over the internet. But the idea that baby wipes cause food allergies has not been proven.
First off, it’s important to note that this was a study done on mice, as explained in a press release. Although the research did include clinical information about food allergies in humans, the actual testing of allergen exposure was completed only on animals. Also, the connection between infant wipes and food allergies was only made after researchers looked at previous studies about soap delivering certain compounds to the skin. The mice were tested with dust and food allergens, as well as sodium lauryl sulfate, a soap present in some infant cleansing wipes. But food allergies in humans are incredibly complex, and much more research is needed to determine what the exact causes are; after all, every person is different. So folks, please know that this study does not prove that baby wipes will cause your little ones to have allergies; rather, researchers noticed a connection between food allergies and a wide range of factors that happened to include baby wipes that left soap on the skin.
That said, it’s always a good idea to make sure to wash any excess soap — including soap from a baby wipe — off a baby’s skin once he or she is clean. After all, you don’t want the little ones accidentally putting any soap in their mouths. On top of that, babies’ skin in general tends to be super-sensitive, so you really don’t want to overuse any products on them. And of course, make sure you always wash your hands before and after handling a baby — basic good hygiene goes a long way!