Feds: No Link Between Pampers and Diaper Rash

Facebook-Fueled Complaints Fizzled After May; Sales Have Rebounded

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and its Canadian equivalent Health Canada have found no link between Pampers Dry Max diapers and diaper rash or other skin conditions, the agencies announced today, despite a social-media uproar on Facebook and elsewhere this spring linking the products to rashes and "chemical burns."

The CPSC received 4,700 reports of diaper rash between April and August, 85% of those during the month of May, when a group of parents on Facebook, dissatisfied with Dry Max diapers, were encouraging parents to file the reports, and local TV stations nationwide aired coverage of their complaints.

Diaper rash reports "dropped off significantly" after May, according to the CSPC. So did growth of the "Pampers Bring Back the Old Cruisers/Swaddlers" fan page on Facebook, which has been stuck at around 11,000 fans since June.

The controversy has also generated several class-action lawsuits against Procter & Gamble Co. and may have put a temporary dent in Pampers sales, with diaper market share for P&G down more than 3 points from the prior period in the four weeks ended June 13, according to SymphonyIRI data from Deutsche Bank.

But that same period also saw heavy private-label discounting and a popular "jeans diaper" promotion by rival Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies. And P&G's share has since rebounded nearly five points in the four weeks ended Aug. 7.

The CPSC said its staff evaluated diaper materials, construction and heat- and moisture-retention issues with the diapers and critically reviewed data from P&G skin testing, and toxicology and pediatric medicine information from Health Canada.

"CPSC staff cannot rule out that there may exist a health concern for some babies," the commission's statement said. "Most babies exhibit diaper rash at least once in their lifetime. If parents or caregivers believe that their child is suffering from a rash that they believe to be related to a diaper, CPSC staff suggests that they discontinue use of the diaper and contact their pediatrician."

P&G always denied a link between its diapers and rash, taking a more confrontational approach with social-media critics as news coverage escalated in May.

"We hope that today's announcement will reassure the millions of moms and dads and child caregivers who place their trust in Pampers and Dry Max every day," Jodi Allen, VP-North American Baby Care for P&G, said in a statement. Pampers is sponsoring "comprehensive education materials" from the American Academy of Pediatrics about baby skin conditions, the company said.

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