Baby Oil & Mineral Oil: The Dangers Every Parent Should Know

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Baby oil and other mineral oils can cause permanent brain damange and death when inhaled.

One might think that items made specifically for use on a baby would be safe for the baby.  Unfortunately, some parents are learning that this is often not the case, even among trusted brands which have been used in the nursery for decades. 

One such item of which you should be wary is baby oil.  Infants have suffered permanent brain damage and even died after inhaling this.  In one horrible instance, an 18 month old boy took 28 days to die from slow asphyxiation.  A 1991 case involved a family which sued Johnson and Johnson after their 15-month-old suffered irreversible brain damage from inhaling baby oil. The earlier report shows that roughly five children die a year in the US specifically from inhaling baby oil, twenty die from inhaling household oils.

How does this happen?  Baby oil, as well as many beauty products and sunscreens, contains mineral oil.  This is a petroleum ingredient made from crude oil.  Mineral oil contains hydrocarbons, which are not only damaging to the stomach but can be extremely dangerous to the lungs, causing them to stop working. 

Within the United States, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission made child-resistant packaging mandatory on all oily products which contain hydrocarbons (this has not been made into law in many other countries).  If you feel you have to use baby oil, please make certain that the cap is closed correctly and is stored away from where a small child could reach it.

Better still, don't use baby oil or other mineral oils.  It might be a good idea to question if something which can be so hazardous when inhaled should be used around small children.  I admit I feel anxious when I read about using baby oil as a scalp massage on infants for this reason.  In addition, baby oil has been blamed for causing several other health risks, including:  Acne; Premature aging of skin and other skin disorders; Impeding normal cell development and possibly causing vitamin deficiency.  Other reports state that mineral oil contains neurotoxins and is a known carcinogen.  There are other oils which have been shown to be very beneficial for the skin which I have discussed here on Factoidz, including emu oil and especially camellia oil, which can even be used for cooking and has been shown to have many health benefits.

If something so potentially damaging can so easily be exchanged for something much safer and possibly much more beneficial, perhaps that makes a more sensible choice?


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