From rigorously washing an apple before taking a bite to covering your nose whenever a smoke-spitting bus passes by, the threat of toxins is nothing new. But which toxins should you be most concerned about, and more specifically, how can mothers protect their children from toxins that could be damaging their brain?
Study after study has proven the link between toxin exposure and fetal brain development. However, recent research by Philippe Grandjean, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, and Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan, reached the conclusion that toxins are causing a “silent pandemic”.
As Grandjean and Landrigan wrote in the study, “Children worldwide are being exposed to unrecognized toxic chemicals that are silently eroding intelligence, disrupting behaviors, truncating future achievements and damaging societies.” The experts identified 12 chemicals, which, if a pregnant mother is exposed to, can cause significantly lower IQs, ADHD and autism in children.
Doctors and pediatricians had previously warned against the exposure to six toxins – methylmercury, polychlorinated biphenyls, ethanol, lead, arsenic, and toluene. This new evidence, published by the National Institute of Health, adds six more – in a sense doubling the risk. These include chemicals found in everyday food items and cleaning products such as manganese and fluoride, as well as pesticides and flame-retardant fibers added to textiles.
The findings on common pesticides (or chlorpyrifos) were perhaps the most alarming for researchers. “I advise pregnant women to try to eat organic because it reduces their exposure by 80 or 90 percent,” Landrigan says. “These are the chemicals I really worry about.” Pesticides are still used throughout the agricultural industry to kill insects in farms, greenhouses and gardens. In supermarkets, only the more expensive organic food products are pesticide free.
While skeptics have pointed holes in this new evidence, such as a lack of information regarding dosage, Grandjean believes that the problem is similar to climate change, in that “We don’t have the luxury to sit back and wait until science figures out what’s really going on, what the mechanisms are, what the doses are, and that sort of thing. And during that time we are essentially exposing the next generation to exactly the kind of chemicals that we want to protect them from.”
Environmental toxins don’t exclusively pose a risk for children. Adults exposed to toxins such as lead and asbestos are at risk of blood poisoning and respiratory conditions too, although restrictions on the use of these chemicals have had a positive impact.
However, industry regulators, write Grandjean and Landrigan, have yet to catch up with science. Toxins such as manganese (added to metal cans to prevent corrosion), fluoride (found in toothpaste to prevent tooth decay) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PCBs) (a flame-retardant added to plastics, furniture and clothing) all carry little or no warnings. As well as psychological conditions, adults exposing themselves to these toxins become prone to certain cancers and respiratory problems.
According to Dr. Wanna Supasirilak, a Board Certified Pediatrician at the Vitallife Wellness Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital, toxin exposure is a significant threat to the development of children’s minds and bodies. “Living in large urban cities exposes us to toxins in our food, air, clothes and drinking water that can potentially cause us lasting harm, but it all depends on our level of exposure”, she says. “A quick toxicology blood test can help determine an individual’s level of exposure and risk.”
The VitalLife Scientific Wellness Center specializes in testing for and treating people who are concerned about toxic exposure, and focuses lifestyle and nutritional issues that may be contributing to high toxicity levels.
For more information please contact:
VitalLife Scientific Wellness Center
68 Bumrungrad International Tower Building 10th Floor,
Soi Sukhumvit 1, Klongtoey Nua, Wattana,
Tel : +66 2066 8899
Monday to Friday : 08.00 – 19.00 hrs.
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