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    Cuddly teddies?
    Children are most susceptible to allergies, and an infant exposed to potential allergens is more likely to develop allergies, especially if either parent is allergic. Stuffed animals are a haven for dust mites, while some plastic and rubber toys can trigger contact dermatitis and other skin problems.

    One way of cleaning stuffed animals is to put them in the spin dryer at a high temperature, followed by a good cooling off in the freezer. Mites cannot tolerate extreme temperatures, and this regime, once a week, should go a long way to neutralising dust mites.
    Stuffed animals are dust traps and should rather be avoided if your child suffers from asthma or serious eczema.


    "Plastic children’s toys, especially those made of PVC, can contain phthalates. This group of ‘gender bender’ chemicals is used to soften plastic and has been linked to reproductive problems and the apparent earlier onset of puberty in girls. Babies and toddlers are particularly at risk from the health threats posed by phthalates because their bodies are still developing. The European Union is so concerned by the risks posed by phthalates leaking out of plastics when chewed that it has put in place an emergency ban of phthalates in teething toys for children under the age of three. But phthalates are still found in non-teething toys for under-threes and in plastic toys for older children. And babies will chew anything, whether it is designed to be chewed or not.
    To avoid phthalates, shoppers should ask for PVC-free toys and try to avoid plastic toys altogether. Some manufacturers such as Ikea and Lego  do not use phthalates in the products they sell, and other toy companies have committed themselves to a PVC-free policy."

    The above extract is taken from the Friends of the Earth website. We have looked into the phthalate debate and feel the jury is still out on this one. There has yet to be a confirmed case of a child actually becoming ill as a direct result of phthalates "leaking" from a plastic toys. The thing is that toy manufacturers and activists against the phthalates both have their own agendas, and until definitive proof is delivered either way, we wouldn't recommend loosing to much sleep over this one.

    There are far more serious and proven allergens and irritants for parents to concern themselves with. Be aware, but not overly wary at this point. The truth is that plastic (even though it's not environmentally friendly) has an excellent safety record. You should however avoid unnecessary contact with plastics if you suffer from a latex allergy.


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