Infant Health Care & Development
For the last 5o years, companies have focused on controlling costs and increasing profits by making products that last longer, smell better, or perform better. Many new compounds have been developed to achieve this purpose and at an untried and untested glance may have appeared to have been safe. After years of being in the marketplace and now tried and tested, these compounds have raised serious health concerns.
The first years of your child’s life have critical impact on his or her present and future health. Statistics about exposure to many chemicals indicate that these formative developmental years are especially vulnerable to the affects of environmental toxins.
Here are a few facts about health and disease in the United States, specifically as these issues relate to environmental contaminants:
1. The American Cancer Society estimates that 75% of all cancers are caused by environmental sources.
2. Asthma is a common chronic disease among children in the United States and can be caused by environmental compounds.
3. In a University of Washington study published in Pediatrics, February 2008, every one of 163 infants tested positive for at least one Phthalate and 81% for 7 or more phthalates.
Why should I be concerned and how are the babies being exposed to chemicals?
Open your medicine cabinet, makeup bag, and laundry room door, and it’s likely that you have some of these ingredients that have been shown to be dangerous. Even if your cleaning products are locked away, your baby probably has daily contact with these health-threatening ingredients.
So, what makes one soap, shampoo or lotion safer than another? The ingredients. Some ingredients have been proven to be safe, while others are more toxic.
Babies, because they are smaller and weigh less than older children and adults, are especially at risk of overexposure to these toxins. Babies are sensitive to smaller amounts, and the impact on their health is greater.
Even a few generations ago, there were far fewer of these toxins in the environment. In recent decades, about 50,000 synthetic chemicals have been produced in the United States and many have dispersed into the environment.(1) As many of the childhood diseases that were so prevalent in the past can be prevented or controlled with vaccines and antibiotics, there has been a shift to treating more chronic conditions. These conditions include, for example, asthma, learning disabilities, birth defects, and childhood cancers.
An estimated 4.8 million children under 18 years of age have asthma.(2,3) About 150,000 children with asthma are hospitalized each year, and 600 die from the disease.(4) Asthma treatment was estimated to cost $6.2 billion in 1990; today this figure is expected to be substantially higher because of the increase in disease incidence and medical costs.(5) The overall frequency of childhood cancer has increased over the past two decades.(6,7) The trends in some cancer rates suggest the need for a closer examination of the underlying causes of cancer in children. This includes determining the role environmental contaminants may play in causing these childhood diseases.
1. SOCMA. Undated. Fact Sheet: The Batch Chemical Industry. Synthetic Organic. Chemical Manufacturers Association, Washington, DC.
2. CDC. 1995. Vital and Health Statistics, National Hospital Discharge Survey: Annual Summary, 1993 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Center for Health Statistics). Department of Health and Human Services, Publication Number PHS 96-1782. August 1995. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
3. CDC. 1995. Vital and Health Statistics, National Hospital Discharge Survey: Annual Summary, 1994 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Center for Health Statistics). Department of Health and Human Services, Publication Number PHS 96-1521. December 1995. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
4. CDC. 1996. Asthma Mortality and Hospitalization Among Children and Young Adults, 1980-1993. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Volume 45, Number 17, Pages 350-353. May 3.
5. Weiss, K.B., P.J. Gergen, and T.A. Hodgson. 1992. An Economic Evaluation of Asthma in the U.S. New England Journal of Medicine. Volume 326, Pages 862-866. March 26.
6. NCI. 1997. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1973-1994. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Cancer Institute. NIH Publication Number 97-2789, page 457.
7. Devesa, S.S., W.J. Blot, B.A. Miller, R.E. Tarove, and J.F. Fraumeni, Jr. 1995. Recent Cancer Trends in the United States. Journal: National Cancer Institute. Volume 87, Pages 175-182.