Not only is it disappointing that mainstream society does not provide much in the way of healthy products, it’s outright dangerous. The average consumer of large chain purchased food, home cleaners, and personal care products is set up to absorb hundreds of harmful chemicals that can eventually be passed on to their children.
I recently read an article called “Kids & Chemicals” by Dr. Sarah Lantz (PhD) which describes a study performed back in 2005 on a mother and her baby. The mother was a regular shopper who bought food at major grocery chains and purchased cosmetics and personal products at department stores. During her pregnancy she was tested for 290 chemicals that she could have either absorbed, inhaled, or ingested during her life.
As you might guess, the results were extremely alarming. The mother’s body had a mix of chemicals that began when her own mother was pregnant for her. Aside from specific chemicals from her father’s photography lab as a child and plasticisers from a paint factory that leaked downstream from her college, there were others more common as listed below:
- Perfluorinated chemicals (which may impair fertility & can inflict a number of other dangers)
- Chemicals from sticky tape, non-stick pans, household cleaners, & carpet protectors
- Phthalates from cosmetics, shampoo, and other personal products
- Lead & dioxins
- Mercury (from childhood vaccinations)
- DDT (which is now banned) *Splenda consumers take a quick look at this
Unfortunately, once tested, the baby was found to already house most of the same chemicals as the mother, including DDT. He had received the chemicals as the mother had some of her own, through the placenta, umbilical cord, and breast milk. He still has the possibility of absorbing additional chemicals- through the food and drinks he is provided as well as from the products used on his skin and environment.
Although this example is of just one case, the mother lived as a number of us do- shopping at large retailers our food and the products we absorb into our bodies which are truly NOT healthy for us. Sadly, I believe that a large amount of the U.S. population probably has these chemicals in their bodies.
In fact, the article states that the Environmental Working Group found an average of two hundred pollutants and chemicals in blood from the umbilical cords in ten babies born in the fall of 2004 in the U.S. There were a total of 287 chemicals found in this blood which came from garbage, gasoline, burning coal, pesticides, and unhealthy product ingredients. Most astonishing yet, of these 287 chemicals, “180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests”. In other words, we are killing ourselves (and our children) with the products we use and the chemicals we ingest from our food.
In case you’re thinking that once born, babies are not at much risk, the articles also notes a variety of reasons why babies and children are actually more susceptible to these chemicals than adults:
- Their body weight is lower & and they have less enzymes that help detoxify
- Their blood brain barrier is not yet mature
- They consume three to four more times the food of adults in proportion to their body mass
- Their skin is more “permeable” than the skin of adults
I have personal (and much more basic) observations that lead me to believe babies are more at risk:
- Babies tend to put everything in their mouths (including plastic items that could contain BPA)
- Baby formula is NOT safe and there are laws actually allowing chemicals in it
- Babies touch many surfaces and put hands in their mouths; if those surfaces were cleaned with harsh chemicals, they could ingest the residue
- Baby shampoo and cleaning products have very disturbing ingredients- take a look next time you’re at a large retailer
Although we cannot help what our mothers may have been in contact when we were in the womb, we can now do our best to be aware of dangerous chemicals and remove them from our lives, to our benefit and the benefit of our children. Babies are brought into this world dependent on their mothers; they have no control over what is provided to them, but you do.
If you want a resource to help get you started, you can visit chemicalfreeparenting.com which features a book by Dr. Sarah Lantz called Chemical Free Kids that might be helpful (I even located used copies on Amazon.com).
-The article referenced is from a newsletter called “Organic & Natural” by the Organic & Natural Enterprise Group in Australia