Children are most vulnerable to damage from toxic chemicals in their bodies, especially during the fetal stage when all their organs are being formed. This period of susceptibility to damage continues during the first few years of life when their brain triples in size and their immune system becomes activated.
I previously wrote about this in October 19, 2012 and February 20, 2013, and the message needs reiterating. I begin with a quote from Philip Landrigan, MD, Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center, the Mont Sinai Medical Center, New York City.
- Former life-threatening diseases of childhood, such as smallpox, polio, and cholera, have been conquered, but our children are growing up in a world in which environmental toxins are ubiquitous. As harmful elements detected in everyday household items increase, rates of chronic disease have also risen sharply – and these conditions are now the leading causes of childhood illness and disease. Cancer, which kills more children under age 15 than any other disease, is linked to solvents and pesticides.
Now the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have just issued a strong warning.
- Every pregnant woman in America is exposed to many different chemicals in the environment. Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals is linked to miscarriages, stillbirths, and birth defects. Many chemicals that pregnant women absorb or ingest from the environment can cross the placenta to the fetus. The scientific evidence over the last 15 years shows that exposure to toxic environmental agents before conception and during pregnancy can have significant and long-lasting effects on reproductive health. For example, pesticide exposure in men is associated with poor semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer. We also know that exposure to pesticides may interfere with puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility, and menopause in women.
The 2013 report, Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs), by the World Health Organization makes a sobering statement, declaring EDCs a global health threat.
- The report highlights health problems associated with EDCs, including: non-descended testes in young males, breast cancer in women, prostrate cancer in men, thyroid cancer, and ADHD in children. Close to 800 chemicals are known or suspected to be capable of interfering with hormone receptors, hormone synthesis or hormone conversion.
In case a person needs more convincing, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has weighed in on this topic.
- The NAS estimates that 360,000 children have developmental and neurological disabilities due to toxic exposures. The EPA considers 90% of all fungicides, 60% of all herbicides, and 30% of all insecticides to be potential causes of cancer. It is known that 33% of pesticides are suspected or proven causes of cancer, another 30% are known or suspected causes of reproductive problems, and about 25% are known or suspected causes of genetic damage.
If you have children or grandchildren, and especially if you are pregnant or are about to become pregnant, what are you to do? It’s simple – it just takes your intention and being informed. Take the preventative actions described in many of my blog articles, and follow the recommendations in my book, Healthy Living in a Contaminated World. Your children deserve to be born healthy and grow up free of debilitating illnesses and diseases. Their fate is in your hands.