We recently received an email from a reader alerting us to a potential problem with Carter's tagless infant clothes. Her eight month old son developed a strange sore on his back that for weeks she was unable to identify the cause of. One night, three weeks into the sore alternately healing and then opening again, she bathed her son and dressed him in his jammies.
When I changed him the next morning, I attempted to remove his pajamas and pretty much freaked because as I took off his pajamas, the skin on his upper back came off with it. It was weeping a brown fluid and as I examined the garment, it was evident that the wound fluid had VERY specific demarcations - it was only on the "tagless" carters' 9-month transparent label.Our own initial investigations, assisted by still other ZRecs readers, make it clear that this is not an isolated incident, and is probably not limited to Carters' brand clothes. The problem seems to be with tagless clothes more generally, and I've seen specific references to clothes manufactured by Carter's, Circo, and Gerber.
An individual who identified themselves on a message board as being "involved with the manufacturing of tagless labels" said that there are two basic types of tagless labels - one made of phthalate-containing PVC, and the other containing two possible irritants:
One is a plastisol type, which is the same basic material that the large designs on the front of t-shirts is made of... the ink is a PVC blended into a phthalate... at a certain temperature the PVC melts and the 2 components form a solid... that solid is transferred to the shirt with heat and pressure... this type of ink is on the way out as phthalates are now being classified as hazardous... residual phthalate from not fully fused ink is what is most likely causing the reaction.Here are images of one child's reaction to Carter's tags.
The other type of ink is a solventborne polyurethane that is post cured via a catalyst... typically a polyisocyanate... this ink can have 2 possible irritants... small levels of formaldehyde in the urethane or residual polyisocyanate that is left unreacted...
This issue appears to have just come on the radar recently so it seems likely that it relates to a recent development in the formulation of these inks.
There is some chatter online that Carter's or other companies may be requesting to have these clothes returned to them when they receive complaints, and that they seem to be aware of the problem but are not yet doing anything public about it.
Has this happened to you or to someone you know? If so, we encourage you to send us detailed information and photographs at zrecommends (at) gmail (dot) com. We'll post again about this matter after we've had a chance to speak with some of the companies involved, and collect whatever reader-provided information is available.
In the meantime, if you see a sore on your child that is in approximately the same location as a tagless tag, please stop using tagless garmets. If all of your child's garmets are tagless, you can tape over the "tag" using cloth tape or turn the garment inside out.
UPDATE: We have new information on this issue from Carter's, and are expanding our inquiry. Click here to read more at ZRecs' new location.
Photo by Leigh Radlowski, used with permission.