By Healthy Child Staff
Though the incidence of many kinds of cancer has been falling in recent years, the number of new cases of childhood cancer has been rising. So have the rates of many other childhood diseases, including autism, allergies, asthma, ADHD, learning disabilities, diabetes, and obesity. Increasingly, scientific research points to the toxic chemicals found in our homes, schools, and communities as a significant factor in this alarming trend.
Renowned pediatrician Dr. Philip Landrigan, director of Mount Sinai’s Children’s Environmental Health Center, and honorary board member of Healthy Child Healthy World, is a leading expert on the issue of environmental influences and childhood health. Here are some of his thoughts about toxic chemicals and kid’s health, and what we can do to prevent harm from chemical exposures.
On developmental disabilities:
Developmental disabilities affect 10 to 15 percent of our children. Examples include dyslexia, ADHD, autism, and mental retardation. The incidence of autism spectrum disabilities is on the rise. Now some form of autism affects 1 in 88 American children, a significant increase of 23 percent since 2006.
Phthalates interfere with the body’s naturally occurring hormones, which control growth, development, and behavior. The highest levels of phthalates are found in women and young children. Vinyl plastics and personal care products are main routes of exposure to phthalates. These chemicals affect reproductive development, especially in boys, and have been linked to early puberty, as well as brain and nervous system effects.
Try these tips to avoid phthalates.
Children are exposed to pesticides from playgrounds and yards that are chemically treated. Conventional fruits and vegetables are another source of pesticide exposure. Some people use pesticides in their homes, spraying chemicals to kill cockroaches and other pests. The toxic effects of pesticides on children are severe, damaging the developing brain and, in extreme cases, resulting in a loss of IQ points. Taking off shoes before entering your home will decrease the amount of pesticides tracked inside. And choosing organic fruits and vegetables lightens the load of toxic pesticides in your child’s body.
For tips and resources to make your home pesticide free, click here.
Want to learn more? Check out this video of the presentation the above remarks came from, sponsored by Kiwi Magazine’s Kiwi College program.