What’s a Person To Think?


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This is a brief slideset that is used as a display at Healthinfo Island in Second Life. The display uses a very current news account of a health danger to discuss potential problems with media reductiveness of more complex issues, and reliability of sources.

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  • What’s a Person To Think?

    1. 1. DANGEROUS to use? Baby shampoos and lotions
    2. 2. What’s a Person to Think? A Case in Point Health information in the news
    3. 3. Baby Care Products: Possible Sources of Infant Phthalate Exposure CONCLUSIONS. Phthalate exposure is widespread and variable in infants. Infant exposure to lotion, powder, and shampoo were significantly associated with increased urinary concentrations of monoethyl phthalate, monomethyl phthalate, and monoisobutyl phthalate, and associations increased with the number of products used. This association was strongest in young infants, who may be more vulnerable to developmental and reproductive toxicity of phthalates given their immature metabolic system capability and increased dosage per unit body surface area. TIMELINE: February 2, 2008 Article published in the journal PEDIATRICS (right click for citation and link)
    4. 4. TIMELINE: February 4, 2008: The alarm is sounded in the media Worrisome chemical found in kids “ Phthalates (pronounced thowl-ates) are used to make plastics soft and also are used in products such as cosmetics. But recent research has suggested they can disrupt the endocrine system in animals, including people, by interfering with hormones, particularly male sex hormones such as testosterone.” (Cornwall, Seattle Times)
    5. 5. For your consideration: What political or commercial issues might be involved? “ The chemical industry, which has been defending phthalates, contends the study is inconclusive and fails to show that very low levels of phthalates are harmful.” (Cornwall, Seattle Times; right click for notecard with citation & links) “ John Bailey, chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, representing makers of baby care products, called the advice unwarranted.” (Morse, Washington Post; right click for notecard with citation & links)
    6. 6. “ Last year, despite lobbying from the chemical industry, California imposed a ban on toys with phthalates and required manufacturers to disclose whether children's personal-care products contain the chemicals. “ (Cornwall, Seattle Times; right-click for citations & links)
    7. 7. For consideration: What is known to be true? "We don't really know what the health effects are," said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, a pediatrician at the University of Washington and lead author of the study published in today's edition of the journal Pediatrics. "The theory from a lot of scientists is, we're changing reproductive health over time." (Desmon, Baltimore Sun; right click for citation & links)
    8. 8. ACSH Advice: Do Not Worry About Health Risks from Baby Powder, Lotion, and Shampoo “ The claimed health risk is totally bogus, based exclusively on results of high-dose rodent experiments. If one were to assume that phthalates should be regarded as dangerous because vast quantities can make rodents sick, then we would also have to fear the myriad natural foods (like mushrooms, table pepper, coffee, and nutmeg) that contain chemicals that cause cancer in rodents -- as plenty of all-natural chemicals do, without any corresponding illness in humans. Similarly, the claim that phthalates "disrupt hormones" is pure speculation and without scientific merit.” – ACSH (for citations and links, right click on poster) Timeline: February 5, 2008 For consideration: Is ACSH a reliable source of information?
    9. 9. “ […] they [ACSH] bear as much relation to a real science panel as particle board does to wood” Effect Measure , March 21, 2005 (a health issues blog -right click for a link to the full text)
    10. 10. So – what’s a person supposed to think ? Watch: Keep an eye on reliable news sources. Try MedlinePlus.gov’s news reports for up-to-date reports. Ask, think, learn: Talk with your physician if you are concerned. Consider how valid, biased or complete sources of media information might be. Ask a medical or consumer health librarian for good quality information. Learn about good sources of information. Act: In this Case in Point , the American Pediatrics Society advises: “The authors suggest that if parents want to lower their children’s exposure to these chemicals that they limit the amount of infant care products they use and apply lotions or powders only if medically indicated.” This Case in Point is brought to you by Carolina Keats at Healthinfo Island
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