Have you heard the term pre-polluted babies? It is disturbing medical jargon for the new generation of babies being born with environmental toxins in their bodies. Yes, babies are being born with toxic chemicals that they got from their mothers.
Examinations on babies’ umbilical cords have found over 300 contaminants; waste by-products – pollution from incinerators, dioxin, teflon, PCBs, and heavy metals; consumer products – sulphates, parabens, phthalates, fragrances, flame-retardants, plastics, preservatives and industrial chemicals banned over 30 years ago.
Pesticides known as organophosphates are being linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and disease, epilepsy, diabetes, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, birth defects, brain damage, infertility and cancer. Recent research found that children ages between 8 & 15 with higher levels of organophosphates were twice as likely to have ADHD.
Air pollutants affect mental development
Environmental health scientist Frederica Perera.says that children who had had more exposure in the womb (because their mothers were exposed) to air pollutants scored significantly lower on the tests for mental development, and were almost three times as likely to be developmentally delayed compared to the less exposed children.
It is clear that if you are a woman and don’t want to have a pre-polluted baby you need to detox before you try to have a baby. A number of infertile couples are finding that they can conceive after they undergo a detox regime.
How to keep your baby toxin free
And if you have just had a baby and didn’t know about the dangers of environmental toxins you can still do a lot to keep your baby as toxin free as possible. Babies are much more susceptible to toxic chemicals because they are smaller and are often closer to them.
Here are some things you need to be aware of if you don’t want to unwittingly poison your baby.
Parents to be often prepare for the new baby by unwittingly painting and carpeting the baby’s room using toxic materials. Even low odor or low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints may contain harmful chemicals such as solvents. It’s becoming easier now to find non toxic paint.
It’s not generally known that carpets are a source of harmful VOC’s too. Fire retardants used on carpets often contains PBDE, a chemical linked to thyroid and immune system damage and diminished brain function. Not what you want your newborn baby exposed to. Neither do you want your baby crawling on carpets breathing in all these chemicals.
Look for carpets with a green label or choose non toxic alternative hard flooring such as cork, linoleum, or bamboo with cotton rugs that can be washed. Sealers used on wood flooring can be harmful so look for non-toxic wood floor finishes.
Prepare the room several months in advance and give the room a good airing before the baby arrives.
Everything but everything for babies contains harmful ingredients: foams, fire retardant chemicals, dyes, formaldehyde finishes, plastic (polyester), cotton pesticides. Even bedding made of natural fibers is treated with chemicals before you buy it. Wool blankets are usually mothproofed. Bedding of 100% cotton, hemp, linen or wool is least toxic.
Avoid washing with conventional detergents, especially scented ones. Do not use fabric softeners which would mean your baby is constantly breathing and touching additional harmful chemicals.
Babies clothing can be full of harmful substances like fire retardants, dyes, formaldehyde finishes, plastic (polyester, nylon, acrylic, spandex), and cotton pesticides. Some chemical treatments do not wash out.
Washing baby clothing with scented detergents and fabric softeners adds more harmful chemicals. Look for natural fiber and untreated cotton clothing.
Untreated cotton or other natural fiber clothing is the least toxic choice. There are lots of sources for natural fiber clothing
Disposable diapers or nappies contain harmful ingredients such as dye, fragrance, plastic, dioxin, toluene, xylene, ethylbenzene, dipentene. The last three are VOC’s that have toxic health effects, such as cancer and brain damage, with long-term or high level exposure. Dioxin is a a carcinogenic by-product of the chlorine bleaching process.
A study published in the Archives of Environmental Health found that disposable diapers may cause “asthma-like” reactions and urged more study into a possible link between diaper emissions and asthma.
Look for disposable diapers that are unscented, non chlorine bleached, free from chemical absorbants and eco friendly. Use non toxic unscented diaper sacks.
Wipes can contain harmful ingredients such as alcohol, perfume, chlorine and dioxin.
Look for Seventh Generation Baby Wipes (non-chlorine bleached, unscented, alcohol-free). in the USA or Earth Friendly Eco Baby Wipes in the UK or Clearly Herbal bamboo wipes in Australia.
Soap & Shampoo & lotions
The Environmental Working Group has released a report about the cancer causing chemicals present in many baby soaps and shampoos. Major brands such as Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo were found to contain toxic contaminants potentially harmful to babies and children.
A published study has found that babies exposed to lotion, shampoo and powder had more than four times the level of phthalates in their urine as those whose parents had not used the products. Previous research found that the substances altered the children’s hormones.
Babies’ skin contains natural oils. Washing too frequently can remove these oils, causing skin to be dry and irritated. Top & tail instead of bathing alternate days. Look for natural organic products for babies.
It’s not a good idea to use talcum powder on your babies bottom especially if female. A study showed that women who used talc in their genital area had a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Particles of talc can easily get into the lungs and cause inflammation which could eventually lead to chronic lung disease and cancer.
If you use powder at all look for rice starch or cornstarch based products or make your own.
The chemical Bisphenol A is used in babies’ feeding bottles. Some studies have suggested that these chemicals disrupt the body’s hormone system and are linked to chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The European Food Safety Authority and the Food Standards Agency in the UK have been saying that BPA is used in safe quantities in baby bottles but the European commission has just banned the chemical from June next year.
The use of BPA in baby bottles has been banned in Canada, Denmark and eight states in the USA. It is being voluntarily phased out of baby bottles in Australia and New Zealand.
Be on the safe side and look for look for BPA free bottles.
Plastic teething rings, soothers (dummies) and toys
Over the past few years there has been concern over the use of diisononyl phthalate in plastic teethers and babies toys, Most teething toys contain about 10 to 20 percent phthalate which is feared to be cancer causing. Babies get the chemical as they suck on the ring or toy.
Soothers are usually made of latex rubber or silicone. Latex rubber soothers can release nitrosamines, potent carcinogens, when babies suck on them.
Breast milk is considered to be the healthiest first food for a baby even though breast milk is also contaminated with environmental toxins. Another reason to consider a detox program before getting pregnant.
Eating a very good balanced diet yourself will help enrich your breast milk so your baby gets all the nutrients needed for health and detoxification.
Feeding your baby organic food as well as making sure they are in a toxin free environment will mean a lower risk of illnesses. Children aged 2 -4 who ate organic fruit and vegetables were found to have 6 times fewer pesticides in their bodies compared with children who ate conventional produce according to a recent study.
Choosing less toxic baby care products and keeping your home as chemical free as possible will help protect your baby from harmful environmental toxins and give your baby a better chance of a healthy life.