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Parents, Advocates Call On Babies’r’us To Protect Babies From Toxics

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Avery Hart, Theresa Cavanaugh, Colleen Stout and Bobbi Wilding Credits: Courtesy of Bobbi Wilding
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Totowa, NJ--Parents, children, and representatives of the Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey and the Getting Ready for Baby campaign gathered in front of their local Babies’R’Us store to call on the company to protect babies from toxic chemicals in children’s products. The campaign is holding similar events at stores across the nation, including in Georgia, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Minnesota, and South Carolina. Parents distributed information urging shoppers to contact the corporate headquarters of parent company, Toy”R”Us.  The Getting Ready for Baby Campaign is calling for a dialogue with a company.

Across the country, parents and advocates took to Babies"R"Us stores to call on the retailer and its parent company to meet with the Getting Ready for Baby campaign and take action to limit toxic chemicals in products they sell.    

In 2015 alone, Toys”R”Us reported that over 100 types of products sold under their private label and made for babies and toddlers under the age three contained “chemicals of high concern to children,” according to Washington State Department of Ecology. That figure doesn’t cover most flame retardants, nor does it include the name brands carried by the retailer. In all, manufacturers reported over 10,000 incidences of harmful chemicals in children's products last year.

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Chemicals used as flame retardants can contribute to significant harm to children - particularly their ability to learn.  These toxic chemicals have also been linked to cancer, infertility, hormone disruption and harm to fetal development. Studies have found toxic flame retardants in mothers and toddlers, with toddlers having up to five times the levels of their mother. 

Once common in furniture and baby products due to a flawed California flammability standard, flame retardant chemicals are no longer needed to maintain high fire safety standards for most padded products. Leading furniture manufacturers and retailers have moved out are moving away from these harmful chemicals. Buybuy BABY, another New Jersey-based retailer, now offers only flame retardant-free crib mattresses, and its parent company, Bed Bath & Beyond, has told vendors it will not sell products with seven of the worst flame retardants. Babies”R”Us has taken no public position.

“Retailers can play a key role in protecting kids’ health from the effects of toxic chemicals, because they decide what products they sell. They must use this power to ensure only the safest materials are used for infants, toddlers, and children,” said Bobbi Wilding, Getting Ready for Baby campaign coordinator at Clean and Healthy New York. “Babies”R”Us is lagging woefully behind. It’s time for them to make sure that every baby gets healthy gear, and the company is a partner to parents by keeping toxics off their store shelves.”

“The science is clear: flame retardant chemicals can harm brain development, and have no business being in baby products,” said Tracy Gregoire, Learning Disabilities Association and LDA Coalition for Safer Products, Healthier Minds Coordinator, and mother of a child with autism. “Prenatal exposure to these dangerous chemicals may result in long-term consequences, including lower IQ levels, as well as learning and behavioral problems. In particular, brominated flame retardants are so toxic that they are on the “top 10” list of chemicals in consumer products linked to autism and learning disabilities. It's time Babies"R"Us showed its leadership by ending the sale of foam products made with toxic flame retardants. Safer products are out there. All families should have access." 


"As a grandparent and great-grandparent, I'm disappointed that Babies"R"Us is doing so little to protect babies from harmful chemicals. As a leading baby product retailer, they have leverage and access to manufacturers that parents just don't. They should be using that power to screen out harmful chemicals like flame retardants from products they are willing to sell," said Theresa Cavanaugh of Montville, NJ. "As past president of the Learning Disabilities Association of New Jersey, I'm frankly shocked that the company hasn't met with the Getting Ready for Baby Campaign. It's time for Babies"R"Us to be a leader." 

An increasing number of scientific bodies are identifying the role chemicals in the daily environment, including homes, can play in health and healthy development.

Last fall, the Endocrine Society has issued an update to their position on environmental chemicals: "The evidence is more definitive than ever before — EDCs disrupt hormones in a manner that harms human health," said Andrea C. Gore, professor of pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and chair of the task force that developed the statement. "Hundreds of studies are pointing to the same conclusion, whether they are long-term epidemiological studies in human, basic research in animals and cells, or research into groups of people with known occupational exposure to specific chemicals." (https://www.consumerhealthdigest.com/general-health/evidence-chemicals-linked-to-obesity-and-diabetes.html)

The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) also sounded the alarm on toxic chemicals: “We are drowning our world in untested and unsafe chemicals and the price we are paying in terms of our reproductive health is of serious concern,” said Gian Carlo Di Renzo, MD, PhD, Honorary Secretary of FIGO and lead author of the FIGO opinion. According to Di Renzo, reproductive health professionals “witness first-hand the increasing numbers of health problems facing their patients, and preventing exposure to toxic chemicals can reduce this burden on women, children, and families around the world.” (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151001100058.htm)

Despite repeated overtures, Toys”R”Us and Babies”R”Us have not responeded to the Getting Ready for Baby Campaign. The Campaign sees progress from campaign efforts through announcements made to the public. In spring 2015, Toys”R”Us revealed that in 2014 it had warned vendors about the problems of toxic chemicals in products, citing a number of state laws aimed at tracking or limiting them. 

“Every baby deserves healthy gear, it’s that simple,” said Wilding. “The Getting Ready for Baby Campaign is calling on Babies”R”Us to be their partner in putting babies’ health first.” 
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The Getting Ready for Baby campaign is composed of over 75 organizations across the U.S. It is calling for baby product retailers to use their position in the marketplace to do what the federal government has thus far failed to do: keep toxic chemicals out of children’s products.  Learn more: www.gettingready4baby.org

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