Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nipple Cream Recalled: Mommy's Bliss Off The Shelves

A friend sent me a notification of an FDA product recall on Mommy's Bliss Nipple Cream by MOM Enterprises.

Since it's an FDA recall rather than one by the CPSC, it has not shown up in the regular RSS feed of recalls (I recommend everyone who uses a feed reader subscribe to the CPSC recall feed).

Why was the nipple cream recalled? According to Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research:
[The] FDA is particularly concerned that nursing infants are being unwittingly exposed by their mothers to this product with dangerous side effects. Additionally, these two ingredients may interact with one another to further compound and increase the risk of respiratory depression in nursing infants.
I find the manufacturer's response to the recall a bit intriguing. Although it has many of the same characteristics of Tylenol's laudable response to the deadly Tylenol tampering of the 80s, I can't help but feel their self-defensiveness is premature as their ingredients are under scrutiny. It also seems apparent from their own web site that they're using natural ingredients in quantities that have not been tested with infants:
The FDA also neglected to mention that the amount of chlorphenesin and phenoxyethanol in the product is minute relative to what is considered allowable for adults.
Wow, I feel like I'm having flashbacks to my April conversation with Johnson & Johnson's Susan Nettesheim regarding the safety of products made by start-up companies and the fact that natural isn't synonymous with safe.


Mimi & Moe's Mom said...

Their response is unbelievable. It anger me and I wonder who the parent company is? I might have to look into this some more....

AJ said...

What's wrong with people? Why don't moms just use lanolin? (Retail name Lansinoh).

Jeremiah McNichols said...

AJ, some women have skin reactions to lanolin (wool alcohols more generally), making lanolin products unsuitable for them for pain relief and skin healing. Here's some information on this.

AJ said...

Is the market for non-lanolin products driven by lanolin allergies? Methinks it's spurred by people who come up with gimmicky marketing angles and push products with cool names and smart graphics. Mommy's Bliss? Mmm hmm.

Generally, seek out single ingredient products rather than ones with compound ingredients.

adrienne said...

aj- Though we bloggers may be especially cynical about marketing, I completely agree that someone is always trying to sell something as newer, faster, and better than established solutions.

And maybe our generation (shaped by watching start-ups like Apple and Microsoft beat out mega-conglomerates like IBM) is more prone to be looking for the newest, best thing. I know that urge to be in the now and the know drives many bloggers- surely it affects the general population too.

But to defend the allergic few, I'm sure nipple rash is a thing to be avoided...

Jeremiah McNichols said...

Yes, these problems are uncommon. And I have nothing against lanolin - Lansinoh is what Jenni used all through our daughter's infancy. But implying that those potentially harmed by a product somehow deserved what they got because they don't "just use lanolin..."

There are many natural, non-lanolin skin treatments on the market for breastfeeding mothers, some of them with significant followings of women who actually breastfeed who swear by their merits. (Yes, there is a real irony to two men arguing about nipple creams.) But I guess you think they've all been fooled by marketing gimmicks or cool product names.

I have no interest in defending Mom Enterprises specifically (makers of Mommy's Bliss) but your general point strikes me as simplistic. Since when is 3-4 ingredients too many to have in a product? Or is breastfeeding a special case?

And who says there can't be a safe, "simple," and entirely natural formulation that performs better for some women, not just those with sensitive skin? Smell, texture, stickiness, oiliness, the exclusion of animal products, or the guarantee of organic ingredients are all factors in consumer decisions that are often more nuanced than you seem to think.