Never underestimate the power of a protective parent.
Rosana Shah said that when her daughter broke into a rash after wearing Pampers' new diapers in December 2009, she created a Facebook page protesting the updated product. Now, despite product awards from parenting magazines and what Pampers said has been a tremendous sales campaign, more than 3,000 parents have joined the page, saying the diapers have given their children painful rashes and, in some cases, burns.
Proctor & Gamble officially launched its new Cruisers and Swaddlers diapers in mid-March with what it called "revolutionary" Dry Max technology. Describing it the "biggest innovation" for the Pampers brand in 25 years, the company said the technology enables the new diapers to be 20 percent thinner and more environmentally friendly than previous versions.
But on a Facebook protest page, parents across the country say that the new diapers, which started hitting shelves under old packaging months before the official release in new packaging, are causing their children harm. Some have uploaded photographs showing the red rashes and blisters they say developed on their babies' backsides after using the diapers.
"In December, we bought our regular Cruisers and I noticed that my daughter's skin was red and hot to the touch," said Shah, 38, who lives near Baton Rouge, La. "And she was in pain. She didn't want us to touch her in that area at all."
After trying to lodge her complaints through Pampers' website with little success, she said, she decided to launch a Facebook page of her own "so people didn't feel so dislocated and confused."
For the first few months, she said membership hovered around 20 parents, as the new diapers quietly transitioned to market. But after Pampers officially announced the Dry Max diapers in March, Shah said, the numbers skyrocketed.
Even on Pampers' corporate Facebook page, which has more than 227,000 fans, some parents have left comments expressing their frustrations with the new product.
Bryan McCleary, a spokesman for Pampers, said, "Our hearts go out to any mom and dad and baby that are experiencing this. We know how difficult this is. But this is Pampers' most thoroughly researched and tested new product since we invented the disposable diaper back in the 1960s."
He said there is no evidence from the people who have called or the research Pampers has conducted that the new Dry Max diapers are responsible for the rashes and chemical burns reported by parents.
"Diaper rash is one of the most common symptoms and things that babies experience," McCleary said. "The things that are being described, things like blisters, breaks in the skin, deep red rashes, this is part of what is experienced by babies all throughout the year. As hundreds of thousands of moms and babies are switching to the new Dry Max, it's clear that they're coincidentally developing diaper rashes and severe diaper rashes at the same time."
But the Consumer Product Safety Commission confirmed that some of the cases are under investigation.
Spokeswoman Patty Davis said the agency is investigating more than one dozen complaints about Dry Max diapers.
"When we do an investigation, our job is to look at the role of the product in the incident," she said.