Procter & Gamble, after weeks of jabbing back at a growing number of parents' claims that the newest version of Pampers is causing skin irritation on infants and toddlers nationwide, went for a knockout -- describing the allegations as "completely false rumors fueled by social media."
Consumer Ally first reported two weeks ago on the increasing number of complaints -- after speaking with numerous parents convinced the only possible cause of these sometimes-serious irritations was the new diapers. Afterward, TV stations from coast-to-coast and news wire services have reported similar claims. Parents want Pampers to recall the new diapers and replace them with the previous versions of the popular Cruisers and Swaddlers.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission this week launched an investigation into the issue and is collecting parents' complaints as well as working with Procter & Gamble to determine whether the diapers are causing problems for infants and toddlers. It's unclear when that investigation might conclude.
At the center of the controversy is a Facebook fan page created by a group of moms who said they were shunned from Pampers' own Facebook page and decided to try to convince Procter & Gamble to go back to its previous version of Cruisers and Swaddlers. It has become a gathering place for parents who believe the diapers have caused their children to suffer, and membership has grown from about 1,500 two weeks ago to well over 5,400 as of Friday morning.
"For a number of weeks, Pampers has been a subject of growing but completely false rumors fueled by social media that its new Dry Max diaper causes rashes and other skin irritations," Jodi Allen, P&G's vice president for Pampers, said in a written statement. "These rumors are being perpetuated by a small number of parents, some of whom are unhappy that we replaced our older Cruisers and Swaddlers products, while others support competitive products and the use of cloth diapers."
Allen said the alleged chemical burns that some parents have described is a "myth" and the company has sought independent experts and physicians who confirm the company's assertion nothing is wrong with the product. P&G has maintained that the new Pampers uses the same components as the old ones, but is thinner by having less filler material.
Some of the parents upset with the new Pampers have suggested the absorbent material is responsible.
A pediatric dermatologist who routinely sees cases of rashes and irritation in the diaper area said there may be another explanation not peculiar to this particular type of diapers. Dr. Robin P. Gehris of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh told Consumer Ally that quite often the cause of irritation like that seen by the parents who switched to the new diapers are dyes in the lining.
"Any allergen that you put on a kid is going to be worse when it's exposed to an area of thin skin like the groin," she said. "The more color on the diaper the worse it is for the kids."
Gehris added the absorbent polyacrylates at work inside the diaper also are a known irritant. She said she is not aware of any particular problem relative to the new Pampers, but noted most parents don't focus on the diaper itself, just the rash or irritation.
Allen said P&G has only received "a handful of rash complaints, none of which were shown to be caused by the type of materials in our product." She estimated the company has gotten less then two complaints per million diapers sold and pointed out that is common for complaints to increase when a new line of products is introduced.
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