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Chemical Burns From Gel In Diaper Warning Message

Circulating social media message claims that leaked gel from inside a Huggies Snug And Dry Diaper caused 2nd degree chemical burns on a 21-month-old child's leg.

Baby In Diaper

© Angeles-Flores

Brief Analysis
The claims in the message remain unsubstantiated. So far, no evidence has been presented that confirms that the child's rash was actually caused by gel from the diaper. Huggies states via its Facebook Page that it is working with the mother to learn more about her situation. The company maintains that all components of their diapers have been thoroughly evaluated and have been safely used for many years. The message is similar to previously circulated warnings claiming that Pampers Dry Max diapers caused rashes on babies.  However, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission investigated those earlier claims and found no specific cause linking use of the Dry Max diapers to diaper rash.

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**ATTENTION*** DIAPER USING PARENTS!!!***Do NOT use HUGGIES SNUG AND DRY DIAPERS!!! This past Friday night my 21 month old son Parker was treated in the emergency room for 2nd degree Chemical burns on his leg. This was caused by the diaper breaking and the gel on the inside of the diaper being trapped in his pants on his leg while he napped! I am in the process of filing formal complaints with Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau! These departments have informed me Parker is not the only case of this!!! PLEASE SHARE this for all to see and maybe prevent another innocent baby from being harmed!

Diaper Chemical Burn Warning

Detailed Analysis
This message, which is currently circulating rapidly via Facebook, warns parents not to use Huggies Snug And Dry diapers. The message claims that a 21 month old child suffered serious 2nd degree chemical burns on his leg after his diaper broke and leaked gel was trapped inside his pants while he slept. According to the message, the child's mother has reported the issue to Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau. The warning features an image purportedly showing the rash caused by the diaper.

However, at the time of writing, the claims in the warning message have not been substantiated. Huggies has responded to the rumours via its Facebook page, noting:
We appreciate your concern and want you to know that we have been working with the mother to learn more about her situation. Please be assured that all components in our diapers have been thoroughly evaluated and have been safely used in all diapers for many years. For any concerns you may have, our Consumer Care team is here to help you: Thank you.
In an answer to a website FAQ about crystals and gel in its diapers, Huggies notes:
The crystals and gel are forms of a superabsorbent material. Superabsorbent diapers offer significant benefits: drawing wetness away from baby's skin and helping to keep baby's skin healthy. In HUGGIES® diapers, superabsorbent material is mixed with the diaper padding. This material turns liquid into a gel, helping to prevent leakage. Occasionally, you may see small beads of gel on the diaper or on your baby, but the gel is nontoxic and will not harm them. Superabsorbent material, also known as polyacrylate absorbents, are a family of polymers that have extraordinary absorbency. The safety of superabsorbent material has been proven in over 450 consumer safety tests studying every which way a person could come in contact with it - through skin contact, or perhaps a baby's eating it out of normal curiosity. Each study has consistently demonstrated the safety of this material.

The circulating warning presents no evidence to support the claim that the pictured rash was actually caused by gel from the diaper. The rash may well have been caused by some other factor. Moreover, some children (and adults) can experience a severe reaction to a particular chemical or component that causes no reaction at all for the vast majority of those exposed to it.

It should also be noted that this brand of diaper has been regularly used countless times on countless babies around the world with no signs of such chemical burns.

Thus, at this point, the claim that the rash was definitely caused by the diaper gel or that the diapers are inherently unsafe for all babies is simply conjecture.

It should also be noted that the warning message is similar to earlier such messages that blamed another brand of diapers - Pampers Dry Max - for the cause of rashes on babies. Those claims were investigated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which stated in a September 2010 report that:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Health Canada (HC) have reviewed consumer incident reports and other information involving Pampers Dry Max diapers. To date, the review has not identified any specific cause linking Dry Max diapers to diaper rash.
However, the CPSC also noted that:
While the investigation thus far does not find a link between the diapers and the health complaints received, CPSC recognizes the serious concerns expressed by parents. CPSC staff cannot rule out that there may exist a health concern for some babies, especially those babies that may be sensitive and develop rashes or other skin problems as a result of contact with the materials in this or other products.
At least until further information about the case described emerges, sending on this message is likely to do nothing more than cause alarm among parents and muddy the waters with conjecture and unsubstantiated claims.

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Last updated: November 6, 2013
First published: November 6, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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Huggies: Facebook Post
Huggies: FAQ
No Specific Cause Found Yet Linking Dry Max Diapers to Diaper Rash

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