Advanced search

What's for lunch today? Take inspiration from Mumsnetters' tried-and-tested recipes in our Top Bananas! cookbook - now under £10

Find out more

Disposable Nappies can cause Infertility!!!??? Tell me it isn't true??

(77 Posts)
M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 10:58:30

Please help put someone right.
One my colleauges is pregnant with her 1st child and she is EXTREMELY critical of how anyone else raises their child. Things like.... apparently I will have damaged ds's spine coz I had a Britax Travel System..... babies should lie FLAT until they are 12 weeks old (EH??).... baby wipes are apparently terrible for babies skin and they leave a horrible residue (there was me thinking that was moisturiser!).

The latest one is...

Disposable nappies, especially Huggies (the ones I use surprisingly enough) can cause infertility in men, asthma and excema!
Apparently the research is being done in Germany according to her midwife.

Tell me this is a lot of bollocks please.

elliott Wed 11-Jun-03 11:03:31

Chill, M2T!! Yes I'm aware of that research, basically they measured the temperature inside babies nappies and reported that it was slightly higher in those using disposables, from this they made the rather large leap to suggesting there might be a link with infertility. Although its true that we don't understand why there has been a rise in male fertility problems, there seem to be better candidates than this one.
Life is full of risks, personally I don't lose sleep over this one (and I wouldn't wish fertility problems on anyone!)

abbysmum Wed 11-Jun-03 11:04:09

Well, if my DH was wearing a Huggies nappy he'd certainly be infertile as far as I was concerned.

motherinferior Wed 11-Jun-03 11:06:23

I suggest you very sweetly admit the error of your ways, and recommend a completely natural approach to childbirth - no drugs whatsoever, calm birth in quiet room - and that she uses cloth nappies exclusively, cotton wool and BOILED water on infant skin, breastfeeds exclusively till baby is 6 months and then only feeds it organic home-made food (while continuing to b/f for as long as poss, at least a couple of years and then at bedtime till it's 5). Then sit back and watch.

Oh, and if she manifests ANY signs of morning sickness, sciatica, general bloat, heartburn etc, keep telling her that pregnancy 'isn't an illness, she should be blooming'.

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 11:07:46

But what about the asthma and excema thing? My ds has both and she is basically saying that I have caused it by my stupidity and selfishness of using Huggies disposable nappies for MY convenience.

I can't wait until this child is born.... she has no idea of the hard work it is with a newborn and constant jibes about all the terrible things I have done wrong don't help! I feel like I have permanently damaged my ds coz I went for the easy options of wipes and disposable nappies.

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 11:08:42

LOL motherinferior.... she's due soon and seems to have stopped gloating about how wonderful she feels.

abbysmum Wed 11-Jun-03 11:10:53

As the String and Octopus Guide to Parenting by Colin Bowles says:

"Before you finally go ahead and have children, find a couple who are already parents and berate them about their methods of discipline, lack of patience,appallingly low tolerance levels, and how they have allowed their children torun riot. Suggest ways in which they might improve their child's sleeping habits, toilet training, table manners and overall behavior. Enjoy it, it'll be the last time in your life that you will have all the answers."

abbysmum Wed 11-Jun-03 11:11:12

Ooooh - my first link!

aloha Wed 11-Jun-03 11:14:48

The research is based on one small study which tested the heat of babies testicles while wearing terry nappies or disposables. They found that the babies wearing disposables had warmer bodies (and therefore testicles) than babies wearing terries - possibly due to the waterproof coating on the outside of disposables. There is some link in grown men between heat and lowered sperm counts and also boys who have undescended testicles tend to have lower sperm counts later in life - which may possibly be because their testicles have been at a higher temperature in the body. None of this is a directly proven connection. HOWEVER - the study is flawed because none of the small sample of babies wore wraps or plastic pants over their terries, which is how the vast majority of 'real' nappies are worn, so the real difference in temperature has never been tested (and is probably non-existent). Also babies have no sperm in their testicles so they don't have a sperm count (obviously) and many scientists don't believe that keeping babies' testicles warm can have any effect on their sperm production in later life. And of course, there has been no study looking at men who wore a/disposables b washables in babyhood and testing their sperm counts. I have looked into this in detail and I was not in the least convinced by the evidence of this small study and happily put my son in disposables with a clear conscience. There is absolutely no link whatsoever with asthma or excema - certainly none that I have ever seen or heard of. I actually fail to see how there could be one! I also use baby wipes and ds has a perfect bottom!!
Personally, I did put my ds to lie flat to sleep and travel (in his pushchair) when he was tiny as there is some evidence (based on some small studies) that babies breathe slightly more easily in this position (rather than bent in the middle). However, lots of babies around the world sleep upright strapped to their mothers or lying in their mother's arms, so clearly lying flat for long periods is NOT essential for baby spines.
I do tend to find that pregnant women do have very stern and strict ideas about raising babies, which all tend to fly out of the window the minute they are confronted with a real baby of their own! You will, I think, soon be in a position to have a good laugh ... Actually, I think laughing merrily when she starts lecturing you and saying, "Oh, just you wait' should annoy her in a very satisfying way!

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 11:19:26

Thanks All. I really hope she looks at this thread coz she knows about Mumsnet. However, she has (obviously) found one MUCH better than any website that I use. Are you seeing a general trend with her yet??

She lectured me one day about how I dealt with ds's tantrum!

Jimjams Wed 11-Jun-03 12:10:42

oh I love this- get ready to be smug M2T.......

motherinferior Wed 11-Jun-03 12:37:37

Don't forget to practise a benign yet concerned expression and say 'oh, no, ds never did that' whenever she expresses a concern about her sprog to be. Or 'oh, that's odd, we tried it and it worked like a charm'. Especially on anything to do with food or sleep.

Some particularly fetching pics of ds on your desk might be a good idea too.

Bobsmum Wed 11-Jun-03 13:21:29

M2T - here are the stories that this charming colleague has probably latched onto. I use cotton nappies and think they're fab but, as said earlier, this research is only in it's early stages and in no way conclusive.
As for the car seat thing, it's apparently only worth worrying about if sprog is in the thing for more than 3 hours at a time without being taken out. nae link for that I'm afraid.

Disposable nappies and infertility - BBC News , GP's opinion , Disposable nappies and asthma ,Have a look at these gorgeous nappies anyway!

Now you can be well armed.

Bobsmum Wed 11-Jun-03 13:24:06

sorry - GP's opinion

aloha Wed 11-Jun-03 13:31:31

Hmm... I would like to know more about how exactly mice were 'exposed to emissions from nappies' !! I have to say, the only time emissions from nappies interfere with my breathing is when I'm changing a particularly ripe one and trying not to breathe in. Ds is blissfully unaffected however. There are a lot of pressure groups about with agendas, producing a lot of small scale research using sometimes dubious methodology. I have to say, I'm not convinced about the breathing link - unless your baby wears a nappy on his head.

pupuce Wed 11-Jun-03 13:32:56

Aloha - most wraps that I know are breathable wraps (air flows). When my kids are in their terry nappies with wrap and I open the nappy I have never found it warm actually. I have also heard that it is more comfortable for a baby to be in terry than dispoable in hot countries.

Philippat Wed 11-Jun-03 13:50:51

I definitely think you'll get the last laugh on this one M2T.

But if you are worried about the tributyl tin in nappies, you can buy disposables without them - Moltex, you can order them from spirit of nature or the nappy lady or various others. There's TBT in sanitary products too - have you asked her if she uses those?

Philippat Wed 11-Jun-03 13:53:02

oops, didn't read everyone else's. i guess Moltex won't stop the heat but I think TBT is implicated too via landfill sites

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 14:02:23

Her baby is a girl so that rules out the infertility. Anyway... sperm production is constant throughout the adult life of a man so how can heat in the nappy as a baby effect that?? Sorry... that's a rhetorical question, but none of the research seems to have any good clear or even slightly realistic results.

I was hoping I could go back and tell that it was all scaremongering... ah well. Thanks for the info guys.

Just for the record - My sis and I had terry towling nappies as babies and my 2 brothers had disposable. All 4 of us are asthmatic.... 3 of us had excema. Weird huh??

Bobsmum Wed 11-Jun-03 14:08:02

I don't think it's the TBT that's meant to contribute to asthma, although it is a banned substance - it has the properties of a synthetic hormone used to control populations of shellfish - turns blokey whelks and barnacles into girlies - allegedly My dad used to paint the hull of his boat with it to deter barnacles etc, before it was banned.
Greenpeace found TBT in Pampers once, but that was a one off leakage during manufacturing in the factory. Still scary though.
The asthma triggers in disposables are (again allegedly) tolune, xylene, ethylbenzene, styrene and isopropylbenzene amongst others. These chemicals are by-products of the manufacturing process of disposable nappies that contain gel.
To be honest, I'd rather not take the risk with ds and my TotsBots outperform every disposable I've ever tried anyway.
It was about time we had another clothie v sposie debate - hurrah!

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 14:12:50

My ds is 2 this month and when he was born noone even suggested anything other than disposable! With my family history of asthma do you not think that they might have mentioned it to me had there been any real risk?

M2T Wed 11-Jun-03 14:14:12

If there is a real risk and this might be the cause of ds's asthma then I'll sue!

Philippat Wed 11-Jun-03 14:18:49

Not just pampers, bobsmum, samples were taken from Boots high performance newborn, Huggies newborn, Sainsbury's performers and Pampers baby-dry new born at the real nappies conference a couple of years ago I think and all had TBT.

TBT is a chemical used in making plastics so pretty much anything with plastic in it will have some TBT (although it is one of the chemicals banned from toys for under 3s). The debate is how much gets to your baby (incidentally I use disposables, both nappies and sanitary towels).

Not sure who you expected to tell you these things, M2T, it's not really anyone's business but your own - isn't that why we all love the internet so much?!

pupuce Wed 11-Jun-03 14:25:34

Aloha.... you write : There are a lot of pressure groups about with agendas

And you think that large corporations are saints???? They also have their own agenda - I think it is good that someone does question/investigates the effects on health of our very modern lifestyle...

aloha Wed 11-Jun-03 14:27:36

M2T - In your case it seems absolutely clear that your ds's asthma is inherited as it is so prevalent in your family. I really don't believe in this link - the study was so small, it was on mice and it didn't even provoke asthma attacks in them! It also came out of a pressure group, which always rings alarm bells with me.

Disposable nappies also have a breathable cover. I think testing terries without wraps or plastic pants is completely misleading. Also the study has not be replicated, which speaks volumes to me about it not being very reliable.
I thought the following report from ABC news in the US was useful at putting both sides. I would do it as a link, but I have never yet done a succesful link.

Hot Under the Diaper?
German Researchers Say Diapers Raise Scrotum Temperature, Possibly Leading to Future Sperm Decline

Will your baby son be able to have babies someday? Researchers worry disposable diapers could lead to male infertility. (ArtToday)
By Melissa Schorr

B O S T O N, Sept. 25 — Could diapers be causing a rash — of male infertility?
     German researchers say the wide use of disposable diapers may be one explanation for the worldwide decline in male sperm counts documented in recent decades. But several experts decry the soiling of diaper’s clean image.
     The study, which was published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, found that male babies who wear plastic rather than cotton diapers had a significant rise in scrotum temperature, which the researchers theorize may cause infertility problems later in life. The scrotum is the external sac of skin that encloses the testes, where the body makes sperm.

Plastic Vs. Cotton
The researchers placed 48 babies in plastic Pampers and cotton diapers and compared their scrotal temperatures for the next 24 hours. They found a 1 degree Celcius rise in the babies who wore plastic diapers, or “nappies.”
     “The physiological testicular cooling mechanism is blunted and often completed abolished during plastic nappy use,” somberly write the authors, led by Dr. C.J. Partsch, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Kiel in Germany. “The impact of a temperature increase on the developing testis is unknown.”
     Although a rise in temperature has been shown to harm sperm development in adults, it remains unclear what the impact of the heat could have on babies.
     Urology experts agree a 1 degree to 3 degree Celsius rise in testis temperature has been shown to harm sperm development and motility in adults, says Grace Centola, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Testes Need Cooler Environment
That’s because testicles need to be around 3 degrees cooler than the body’s normal temperature for ideal sperm production; thus, their anatomical banishment outside of the body. Men striving towards fatherhood are advised to avoid tight briefs and hot tubs to better their chances.
     But an infant’s developing testicles won’t begin producing sperm until puberty is reached at least a decade later and some experts doubt the slight rise in temperature could have a later affect on infertility.
     During the time of infancy, the cells that will later become sperm cells are still just normal cells that probably are unaffected by the change in heat, says Dr. Bruce Gilbert, associate clinical professor of urology at the State University of New York at Stonybrook. “Does [increased temperature] really make a difference at that time?” Gilbert says. “Anything early on is speculation.”
     One piece of support for the German researchers’ position is that babies whose testes don’t descend outside the body but remain stuck inside for a year often have a lowered sperm count later in life.
     But this just may be because their testes were damaged originally, not because the body’s higher temperature caused the damage, says Dr. Larry Lipshultz, professor of urology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
     Without following diaper users into the future, or looking back at infertile men’s diaper use as a babe, the study raises more questions than it answers.
     “It’s food for thought,” the male reproductive society’s Centola says. “It may warrant further, long-term studies. I’d want to see the data 40 years down the road.”

Sperm Decline Debatable
Whether or not diaper use is one of the factors contributing to an overall decline in sperm counts of the current generation of men compared their grandfathers is highly debatable.
     For one thing, experts still squabble over whether or not this decline is really taking place. A 1992 analysis of 61 earlier studies found a worldwide sperm count decline of 1.5 percent annually from 1938 to 1990 — but later studies contradicted those results.
     “It’s controversial,” Stonybrook’s Gilbert says. “There is no great opinion on whether there really has been a decline.”
     Those who believe there has been a decline in sperm counts attribute it to everything from environmental toxins to higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases to global warming.
     Disposable diapers, which made their way onto store shelves around 35 years ago, may be part of the mix, the researchers suspected.

Defending the Diaper
But the manufacturers of Pampers and Luvs, feeling the heat, spring to diaper defense.
     “The trend in decreased fertility has been noted for the past 60 years,” says Khristin Heaney, a spokeswoman for the Personal Absorbent Product Council, a Washington D.C.-based trade group. “But we’ve only been using diapers for 35 years, which would lead me to believe there’s more at issue.”
     Heaney says the diaper’s record is spotless — it’s the study that is sullied. She says a prominent expert has said the probes used by the researchers couldn’t be accurately applied to an infant’s scrotum.
     “Thirty-five years of clinical and safety studies have never led anyone to believe there was an issue,” Heaney adds. “In industry research, skin temperature tests which monitored the temperature in the overall diaper area found no increase indicated. Clearly, it’s a non-issue.”

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: