Can chemicals in the environment harm your baby’s developing brain?
The answer is YES. Are you aware that one in six children have a neurological disability? These include autism, IQ loss, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
During the first few years of life, a child develops neural connections at an incredible rate of 1 million per second. These connections, whether they thrive or weaken, create what the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child calls “the architecture” of your child’s brain—a foundation with lasting effects on every child's future.
Diverse experts agree that before and after birth, exposures to toxic chemicals and pollutants significantly increase your baby’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. These include chemicals in commonly used household products and others that we come into contact with within our communities.
Toxic chemicals are not the sole cause of lifelong learning and developmental deficits, but they are among the most preventable. Read on for two examples.
- Phthalates – Phthalates are added to plastics to make plastic products soft and flexible. Some products that contain phthalates are vinyl shower curtains, air fresheners, lotions, shampoos, and other products with fragrances (a reason why most of our products are fragrance-free). Phthalates can be released from these products by heat, agitation, or long-time storage and can enter our bodies by breathing, eating, or drinking things that have been in contact with phthalates. Phthalates can cross the placenta during pregnancy, and human studies have linked prenatal exposure to some phthalates with neurological problems in children.
- Arsenic – This is a natural element in the soil, water, air, plants, and animals. Arsenic is very toxic to humans. The following three food products – infant rice cereal, apple juice, and rice – account for about 70 percent of total daily exposure to arsenic.
What can you do to reduce toxic exposures for your baby?
Though toxic chemicals are present in our daily lives, it doesn't mean that there's nothing parents or caregivers can do to keep their little ones safe and healthy.
Just like your skin once was, your newborn baby’s delicate skin is very soft and vulnerable. When choosing baby care essentials, try to look for gentle products with natural and safe ingredients. Products with phthalates and other toxic ingredients can find their way into your baby's bloodstream, then to vital organs like their developing brain, and cause neurodevelopmental disorders. A good rule of thumb is to not buy anything for the baby that is not safe for you while pregnant. Your baby essentials list boils down to this: safe baby products you love, that you can trust to be safe, effective, and PŪRE.
- Feed your baby cereals that are naturally low in arsenic, such as oatmeal and multigrain.
- Choose rice-free snacks.
- Focus on variety when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables have higher levels of toxins than others. For example, even though sweet potatoes and carrots can have higher levels of heavy metals, they are a great source of vitamins and nutrients. Alternate sweet potatoes and carrots with other choices that are lower in contaminants, such as bananas, green beans, peas, squash, and pears.