As a new Mom in 2005, I wanted the very best for my baby. I wanted the best performing diaper for my money. As a self-proclaimed Science Geek, I tried several different brands of diapers and tried to analyze the value. I finally decided on Pampers Swaddlers. While a little more expensive, I had fewer blow-outs and leaks on my baby girl making Pampers my diaper of choice. In 2008, upon arrival of my second baby girl, I immediately grabbed for Pampers on the grocery store shelf and have not looked back since. Have my girls ever had a diaper rash? Yes. Have I ever thought it was the diaper? No. Until now….
In January, I received a sample of the Pampers Cruisers in Size 4 with the new Dry Max Technology to try with my youngest daughter. We used the diaper for two weeks before I wrote my assessment, and honestly we had no issues at all. No leaks, no rashes, no burns, nothing….so I was surprised when I started getting comments from concerned Moms who believed the new Dry Max technology had harmed their babies. I later learned that my link was shared on a Facebook page which was driving traffic to my site. Many of the members of the Facebook group have experienced what they believe to be chemical burns or severe diaper rash from exposing their children to the Dry Max technology. I took the time to read many comments on this Facebook page and try to understand the concerns of the parents. After all, MY baby was wearing these diapers as well and if something was really wrong, I wanted to know.
Because of the attention my post received and the concerns I expressed to them, Pampers invited me to tour their facilities in Cincinnati, Ohio in early June. Although, I had not experienced problems with the diapers myself, I had a vested interest in this problem because my daughter was wearing the diaper and I wanted to get to the root of the issue. I took the time to read all I could on the issue, contacted my Pediatrician for advice, and formulated questions of my own to bring to Pampers.
Upon arriving at Pampers Headquarters, I was introduced to several faces of Pampers including Jodi Allen, the Vice President of North American Baby Care. My first impression was that these were real people with real families. These people poured their lives into the new Dry Max technology and genuinely feel like they are doing something great for babies and the environment. One of the employees, Kerri Hailey, Associate Director of R&D, even tested these diapers on her own children while they were in development. They all appeared concerned about the issue, and wanted to find a solution for these parents. The difficult part is that they can’t find anything wrong with the diaper! How do you fix a problem that doesn’t exist?
Needless to say, I was anxious to see the data and find out how it was collected. To my delight, we began the next day with a tour of the Discovery Center and the Baby Care Headquarters. At the Discovery Center, we had the opportunity to see how new ideas go from prototype to reality (and even saw four women handmake a size 4 Dry Max diaper). At the Baby Care Headquarters we got to peak in on a research study in progress. Honestly, I had no idea so much research could be done on a diaper! I mean, it gets wet…it leaks or it doesn’t. What else can you learn? A LOT! Local parents bring in their babies for a day of playing, eating and drinking in the Center (compensated with gift cards which is standard practice) while the researchers measure everything from load capacity to tab stretch ability, from sagging to bunching. Some of the kids in the Center were even used as models to made molds which Scientists can diaper the mannequins and create 3D images in order to display exactly where your baby touches the diaper and how urine is received and distributed. The diapers are also tested in various parts of the world as well, so differences in diet or size/shape of children are taken into account and included in the overall research conclusion.
After the tour, we had the chance to sit down with an Executive Panel which included Jodi Allen, Lisa Sanchez (Director of R&D), Leslie Hopkins (Associate Director of R&D), Brian McCleary (External Relations for P&G), and Kerri Hailey. After being given some background, it was question and answer time! The panel was very forthcoming with any information we wanted to know and believe me, many questions were asked among the ten bloggers in attendance. Here are a few things I learned:
What makes Dry Max different?
- Dry Max is ten years in the making. It is the most studied and researched change in Pampers history.
- The Dry Max technology is new in that less pulp is used in the diaper. The actual materials used in the diaper are the same as the old ones. No new chemicals are used and the absorbent gel is no closer to the skin than in the old Pampers. The gel is not painted onto the pulp.
- None of the materials used in the diaper can cause a burn of any kind. Not alone, not when mixed with diaper cream and not when mixed with urine or feces. Burns are caused by strong acids or bases and there is no evidence of this in the diaper.
When did complaints begin?
- Pampers receives complaints every time something is changed, even when the placement or variety of cartoon characters are changed. The difference is that this is the first major change in the “Facebook Era.”
- Over 2.4 billion diapers with dry max were distributed before the first claim of chemical burn (Dry Max diapers were distributed in old packaging for several months without incident).
- Even after the official launch, it was only after the media got involved did the complaints increase over what was expected.
How is Pampers responding?
- Pampers has increased the number of operators answering calls to the complaint line (1-800-PAMPERS). The average time an operator spends with a customer is 15 minutes.
- The operator will take all of the relevant information and in some cases the customer has been called back by the staff in the R&D department. Some customers have been asked to mail the diapers back so staff can assess the problem. Customers will be offered the choice of coupons for new product or their money back. No one is forced to take coupons.
- I was impressed to learn that Pampers has even offered to for the child to see a Pediatrician at their expense. But, to date they have not seen medical evidence from a Pediatrician officially diagnosing “chemical burn.”
- When Pampers receives a complaint, they can track every diaper sold down to the plant it was made in and the crew that was on the line to determine if a specific lot has an issue. To date their is no consistency in complaints.
- Pampers brought in Paul Sagel, Retired Research Fellow (he invented Bounce!) to investigate complaints. He says that Pampers has allowed him to test the diaper to make sure nothing was missed. After his tests, he feels the diaper is safe.
- We also met with Dr. Tom DeWitt, American Academy of Pediatrics Professor, and Dr. Kim Thompson, President of Kid Risk, Inc. and Associate Professor at Harvard School of Public Health who both investigated claims of chemical burns. After examining the evidence, neither professional felt like the diapers were the cause of the diaper rash and/or chemical burns.
- Pampers voluntarily went to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), met in person, and turned over all of the raw data. They are fully cooperating with all requests from the CPSC.
What can you do if you are concerned?
- Visit Pampers Village and check out the Dry Max page to get more information.
- Join the Pampers Facebook page to get more information or ask questions.
- Call 1-800-PAMPERS
- Call your Pediatrician if you suspect your child has a severe diaper rash or chemical burn.
After visiting Pampers Headquarters, I can honestly say that my fears have been alleviated. After seeing all the evidence, I do not feel like this diaper is unsafe for my daughter. This is a personal decision and I am in no way discrediting the beliefs of the parents who feel like Pampers is harmful to their babies. If you have had a problem, please see your Pediatrician and then call 1-800-PAMPERS to tell them of your findings.
Please feel free to comment on this post, but personal attacks will not be allowed.