Is Baby Powder Safe for Babies?

baby powder

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The connection between baby powder or talc and certain types of cancers has not been well-established, but the questions about whether this product is safe to use continue to persist.

Baby powder is made from corn starch or talc and is primarily used in order to keep the skin dry by absorbing moisture. While there has been some evidence of a connection between talc and ovarian cancer, it's still unclear whether there's a direct link. Here's what we do know.

Cancer Concerns About Baby Powder

The most-often cited risk surrounding the use of talc powder is a concern that it may make its way into a woman's reproductive tract. There have been reports of talc found in ovarian tumors, for example, in women who reported using baby powder daily on their genital areas.

The Journal of the National Cancer Institute did find that while there was no proven link between using talcum powder in the perineal (genital/bottom areas) and overall ovarian cancer risk, there was an association between talcum powder use and invasive ovarian cancer.  And The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans," putting baby powder on a list of a lot of other things that might cause cancer, including the whole-leaf extract of aloe vera.

So, what does that mean for you as a parent? Does baby powder cause cancer? Although we can't say for sure that baby powder causes cancer, there has been some association in a few studies, especially for females.

For parents, this may mean that you might want to consider using extra caution when using baby powder in girls, as the powder may travel up through the vagina, especially if you use a lot of it and apply it every day.

How to Use Baby Powder

The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that the talc or cornstarch in baby powder can also be harmful to babies because they can breathe in the tiny particles in the powder, damaging their lungs.

To prevent your baby from breathing in the baby powder, apply the baby powder to your hand first, away from your baby, then pat onto the diaper area.

Babies Don't Need Baby Powder

Many of us think of baby powder as a baby essential, but it's not. Your baby does not need baby powder to keep her diaper area healthy and dry, so it's up to you as a parent if you want to skip using baby powder altogether. There are plenty of ointments and creams, many with natural ingredients, that can be used to treat a baby's diaper rash.

Keeping your baby's diaper dry by changing diapers frequently and letting the diaper area air out once in a while also will help keep rashes and irritation away. If you do decide to use baby powder, don't use it every day and apply it first to your hand, then to the diaper area, to cut down on the dust that your baby could inhale.

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Article Sources
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015, November 11). Making baby's room safe. Healthy 
  • Boudreau MD, Mellick PW, Olson GR, Felton RP, Thorn BT, Beland FA. Clear Evidence of Carcinogenic Activity by a Whole-Leaf Extract of Aloe barbadensis Miller (Aloe vera) in F344/N Rats. Toxicological Sciences. 2013;131(1):26-39. Retrieved from
  • Gertig, D.M, Hunter. D.J., Cramer, D.W., Colditz, G.A., Speizer, F.E, Willett, W.C, Hankinson, S.E. (199,9, January). Prospective Study of Talc Use and Ovarian CancerJournal of the National Cancer Institute. ​