Kidalog/Baby Love Products, Camrose, Alberta, Canada

Hazards of PVC-coated mattress covers.
You may recall that Health Canada, as well as European safety agencies, have banned teething toys containing phthalates. Pthalates are used to soften vinyl (PVC). They damage the liver and reproductive system, and can cause cancer. They migrate to the surface of the plastic and leach or evaporate into the surrounding environment. They eventually migrate out of the plastic entirely. As a result, the plastic becomes brittle over time. You may have wondered why vinyl pads, playpens, mattresses, and diaper bags eventually crack--now you know!

Most parents purchase a waterproof mattress cover to protect the crib mattress when baby's diaper leaks. These covers may have fabric on the top side with a vinyl coating on the bottom, or they may have a PVC (vinyl) inner core, covered with fabric on the top and bottom.

A recent study shows that the chemicals emitted from mattress covers containing PVC (vinyl) cause acute toxic effects on the respiratory system. Some of the reactions last for at least 24 hours. Because children sleep with their noses very close to the mattress cover and are breathing in a high dose of these chemical emissions on a repeated basis, it is suspected that this may cause and/or exacerbate asthma in some children.

Other studies show that the chemicals emitted by fabric softener, air freshener, fresh paint, plastics (such as those in disposable diapers and children's toys), new carpet, fragrance/perfumes, and marking pens (even those labelled "non-toxic, waterbased") also are linked to asthma. Perhaps remodelling a room for baby's use is NOT a good idea, as the air will be extremely polluted with chemicals from the paint, new carpet, synthetic and permanent press fabrics, and formaldehyde and other chemicals from new wooden furniture.

Editor's note: ANY cause of "repiratory distress" should be of concern to parents of young babies, since researchers cannot seem to agree on one specific cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). One scientist told us that if a baby's cause of death is an asthma-type reaction, this would not be visible in an autopsy. If you want to protect your crib mattress without using a vinyl mattress pad, we recommend the BabeSafe Mattress Cover. This will contain off-gasses that mattresses emit so that baby will not breath them in (another possible cause of SIDS), and will also keep moisture away from the mattress. Read more about off-gassing.