First things first, I need to be very clear that I am writing this from my perspective, based on my notes and my perception of the great Dry Max debate. I don’t have graphs or talking points or fact sheets from Pampers to reference. I am not, by any sense of the word, a Pampers spokesperson. I’m a concerned mom with an 18 month old in diapers.
I traveled to the Pampers Baby Care Center in Cincinnati last week to meet with Pampers executives and researchers (as well as a couple folks who do not work for Procter & Gamble) to discuss the Pampers Dry Max issue, namely whether the diapers are safe or the cause of serious diaper rash. I went armed with literally 13 typed pages of notes, questions and concerns gathered from blog posts, The Shopping Mama Facebook page and emails from readers.
And for the full disclosure details, I was not compensated monetarily at any point by Pampers. My travel expenses to Pampers last week including air fare for me and my two children, hotel and meals were paid by Procter & Gamble. I received a product sample in February when the Dry Max diaper debuted and some Procter & Gamble samples last week. I was not asked to do anything specific in response to the trip.
One of the very first things I said last Thursday, in a conference room with the other bloggers in attendance and several Pampers executives, is that I trust mother’s intuition. There is nothing worse as a mom than to know something is wrong with your child and to feel that you aren’t being heard. I can recall multiple doctor’s visits where I went to the pediatrician seeking answers and a solution, only to be blown off and told “everything’s fine.” A mom knows when something is wrong with her baby.
With this in mind, I think Pampers did a big disservice to moms (and, frankly, themselves) when they reacted to the diaper rash claims and allegations with cold, fact-based press releases. Concerned moms want to be heard and their concerns need to be acknowledged. I truly hope after our discussions last week that Pampers will continue to move forward by talking with moms (like they talked with me).
I knew something out of the ordinary was going on when my daughter had a severe diaper rash in April. It was awful. She was in tears before, during and after every diaper change. The rash finally went away after over a week of using multiple creams, ointments and homemade remedies. She was wearing Dry Max diapers at the time and continues to wear them today without any repeat rashes.
It would be nice if I knew what caused her rash so that I could prevent it from ever happening again. But, I just don’t know. When I took her to the pediatrician seeking some relief, he didn’t know the cause. But, I honestly do not believe it was the diapers.
Why I Think Dry Max Diapers Are Safe
Dry Max Diapers Contain the SAME Chemicals and Ingredients as the Prior Generation of Swaddlers and Cruisers.
Like me, some people have wondered how can a diaper that is 20% thinner and looks so different be made of the same material. I mean, Pampers made a big deal about how new and different Dry Max is from previous diapers. But, as I understand it, the thing that makes Dry Max so different is the process of making the diaper. The new technology uses less “pulp” – making the diaper thinner – and slightly more absorbent gel (like 5%) that is carefully placed strategically where babies need it most.
What You Can Do: Check out the complete list of ingredients for Dry Max diapers online – when they update the site I will include that link here. In the meantime, you can also click to see a chart of the ingredients in Pampers Dry Max diapers and their purpose.
Network of Pediatricians and Hospitals Are Not Reporting an Increase in Incidence or Severity of Diaper Rash.
One of the people we had the opportunity to question was Dr. Tom DeWitt, the Director of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. As a member of a network of over 60,000 pediatricians he reported no chatter or discussion about the Dry Max diapers, increase in diaper rashes or any occurrence of chemical burn. In addition, 95% of hospitals use Swaddler diapers and Pampers has not received any complaints or report of increased diaper rashes from hospitals.
What You Can Do: Call your pediatrician. I did. I called the Nurse Help line and spoke with two different nurses and told them I’d heard complaints about the new Pampers diaper and would like to know if they’d noticed an increase in diaper rashes or complications with the diaper. Both said “no”. (I realize that’s hardly scientific. My point is simply to ask questions of your local resources.)
The Diapers are Tested. And Tested. And Then Tested Again.
Every company that makes products to be used by children has a huge responsibility to ensure that product is safe. The Dry Max diaper saw years of research, testing and inspection prior to ever touching a baby’s bottom. Here’s the short version of the safety testing that includes Pampers internal testing, external testing and mass quantity tests:
- Pre-Market – includes chemistry evaluation of all the ingredients, including paper, liner, absorbent gel, etc.
- Skin Safety – evaluated for potential allergies and skin irritation
- Clinical Safety In Use – controlled clinical observation and testing
- Post Market Surveillance – contact with consumers to understand their use in the market
I can easily be qualified as a cynical person, but I do trust science. And, after learning about the years and years of research and development and testing that went into this diaper I find it hard to believe that something as serious as a defect causing severe diaper rash (by a diaper) or chemical burn would be overlooked or missed. Not to mention the excessive testing and evaluation that has been done since questions of the diaper’s safety surfaced.
Obviously some products make it to market only to discover a defect later (think recent stroller recalls). The difference, in my mind, is that in those instances, when complaints were filed the offending company did research to discover what the problem was, recalled products or offered a fix. In this case, in reaction to complaints, Pampers has done excessive research but cannot find a cause or problem with the product to fix.
What You Can Do: Keep an eye out for the Consumer Products Safety Commission findings. The government agency is reviewing the issue and will hopefully come to a conclusion soon. (I’ll update here when any announcement is made.)
But What About…
Is it possible there was a bad batch and that something got contaminated? Pampers checks the materials when they receive them from manufacturers, they seal products in tamper proof packaging and have looked into every step of the process. When you call to report a rash, Pampers will ask for an identifying number that can be found on the diaper. This number can tell them every little detail about how that diaper was made, what crew produced it at the exact minute it was completed. Pampers can find no correlation between any batch of diapers.
When did complaints start? Pampers started switching their manufacturing lines to produce the new Dry Max diapers nearly two years ago and actually started shipping the Dry Max diapers in the old version boxes in August of 2008. This is apparently typical practice when rolling out a new product, and the decision to do so was made based on previous polling and feedback from consumers. (We did discuss that, in retrospect, perhaps they they should have informed consumers about such a change.) But, what I think is noteworthy is that even though the diapers have been on babies bottoms since August of 2008, Pampers did not receive a noticeable increase in consumer complaints until April of this year. I think if the diapers were truly causing severe rash and burns they would have affected babies sooner and Pampers would have started receiving a marked increase in complaints at some point in the 19 or so months they were being used. (While discussing this issue I asked if the diapers were fully tested when they hit the market – clearly moms don’t want their babies used as unwitting guinea pigs. I was assured that the safety testing was complete prior to shipment of any Dry Max diaper.)
Moving Forward – My Recommendations for Pampers & Moms
I told you what I said to start the day and now I’ll share one of the things I said toward the end of the day. After talking to everyone from the Chair of Pampers to the Head of Research and Development to the Associate Director of Safety & Quality, it was very clear that this issue weighs heavily on all involved. I said, “I get the sense that you all would rather find something wrong so that you would have an answer and a solution to this problem than to keep coming up empty.” There was a collective, unanimous sigh and “Yes!” said around the table.
My biggest take away from the day was how much my perception of Pampers as a Procter & Gamble company really changed – for the better. I imagined it as a cold, corporate place but the people I spoke with couldn’t have been nicer or more concerned with the idea that their product is hurting babies. As people and a company they are truly at a loss – based on all the evidence and research they’ve done they do not believe their product is faulty and they do not know how to change that perception.
Pampers should continue to connect with and talk to moms.
I was surprised to learn that Pampers executives have attended pediatrician visits with babies to learn more about the severe rash they’re suffering from. I was impressed to hear about the Director of Research and Development on a 45 minute phone call with a concerned mom at 7 on a Friday night. These examples show that they are interested in hearing moms – they need to do that on a large scale to reach more concerned parents.
Pampers should stay out of the cloth diaper debate.
As far as I’m concerned, the “facts and myths about cloth diapering” page on Pampers is totally irrelevant and does nothing but anger a passionate group of moms. Moms that are not Pampers’ target audience. I find it doubtful that anyone researching cloth diapers would find Pampers a relevant or trustworthy resource. The time and effort would be better spent making the case that Dry Max are better than previous generation Swaddlers / Cruisers and competitor disposable diapers.
Moms should do their own research.
Talk to your pediatrician. Ask your child care provider if they’ve noticed a change in severity or frequency of diaper rashes. If you’re really gung ho, donate to the ZRecommends Research Project. (Although, I saw the same skin irritation test they’re planning performed and don’t think it will break the case.)
I started The Shopping Mama to share my the latest in greatest gear and kids for babies and kids and am happy to also share parenting information and resources. I got involved in this situation after posting my concerns about Dry Max diapers and now feel compelled to share what I’ve learned. In no way am I trying to discount other opinions. I’m not a doctor or scientist but I am a mother. And I wouldn’t continue to use a product if I thought it was dangerous or inappropriate for my child.
Pampers took a step in the right direction by engaging mom bloggers in a discussion about Dry Max. I hope they take the next steps and continue to talk with moms.
Updated September 2, 2005: Following a months long investigation, the Consumer Products Safety Commission today announced it “has not identified any specific cause linking Dry Max diapers to diaper rash.”
Check out the other bloggers’ reactions to the Blogger Day at Pampers
If your child has suffered diaper rash or other complications from Dry Max Diapers, call 1 – 800 – PAMPERS.