Get Educated

Healthy Baby Guides: Overview

We at Sprout San Francisco care about the health of our children and our planet. We keep up to date on the latest research to provide you with the best products for your growing family. Here’s why.

While pregnant or breastfeeding, your developing baby is not only susceptible to what you eat, but also what you drink, inhale and put against your skin. As a new parent, you will want to make sure your baby is surrounded by the healthiest environment you can provide.

There are artificial chemicals everywhere and though much of your exposure is unavoidable, you can control exposure in your home by avoiding products with chemicals that are known or suspected to cause harm to you and your family. This simple change will make a difference as the EPA has found the air quality in our homes to be 2-5 times more toxic than the air outside (and even more in homes that use air fresheners!). From the paint on your walls to the finishing on your floors, unless specifically emitting no-VOCs, all contribute to your home’s poor air quality. Since most people spend up to 80% of their day inside1, why not make your home as healthy as possible for you and your family?

Small doses can add up over time:

Many products that contain harmful chemicals have been tested and proven safe in small doses. However, researchers have not been able to measure the cumulative effects of multiple environmental influences added together throughout the day over a prolonged period of time. A study conducted at Tufts showed that small amounts of exposure to chemicals may be harmful when combined with other exposures.2

Many chemicals not tested:

Tens of thousands of synthetic chemicals are registered for use in manufacturing and industry in the U.S. Only a small percentage of these have been tested for their effects on human health. According to the EPA, of the nearly 3,000 top-selling chemicals in the U.S., only 7% have a full set of basic toxicity information.3 A leading pediatrician has been quoted as saying “we are conducting a vast toxicological experiment, in which our children, and our children’s children, are the experimental subjects.”4 There are many choices you can make to eliminate synthetic chemicals in your home.

Not too late:

In an NIH study5, urine samples were collected from suburban children. Pesticide breakdown products were found routinely in the samples. The researchers then replaced all the foods the children ate with the organic version. Within 24 hours, the concentration of pesticide breakdown products dropped significantly. After returning to their previous diets, the levels of exposure to organophosphate pesticides returned, sometimes above the safety limits set by the FDA.

Why is this more important for children?

Children are more vulnerable to toxic substances than adults as they breathe more air per pound and their bodily systems are still developing and are therefore less able to handle toxic substances. 6 In 1993, the National Academy of Sciences listed reasons why children are uniquely vulnerable to the harmful effects of chemicals7:

  • Pound for pound, a developing child’s chemical exposures are greater than those of adults.
  • A porous blood-brain barrier allows greater chemical exposures to the developing brain.
  • Children have lower levels of chemical-binding proteins, allowing more of a chemical to reach target organs.
  • A baby’s organs and systems are rapidly developing and thus can be more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure.
  • In children, systems that can detoxify and excrete chemicals are not fully developed.
  • The longer future life span of a child vs. an adult allows more time for adverse effects to arise.

Is living organically important during pregnancy?

The umbilical cord delivers pollutants from the mother’s body and from her environment to the baby in the womb. In a 2004 study, the umbilical cord blood of 10 babies were tested for industrial chemicals and an average of 200 chemicals were found including mercury, fire retardants, and pesticides.8

Reasons for concern:

Our children’s generation is seeing a rise in cancer, asthma, birth defects, ADHD, and learning and developmental disabilities. We don’t know for certain why this is happening yet. Our country’s leading researchers all agree that much of this could be due to the introduction of so many new toxic chemicals to the market and then subsequently into our home.

  • Asthma – The U.S. CDC says that from 1980-2005, there was a 200% increase in asthma in school age children and rising in preschool age children.
  • Cancer – Childhood cancers such as acute lymhocytic leukemia jumped 27% from 1973-1990.9 The American Cancer Society estimates that environmental factors contribute to 75% of cancer cases. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded that 80% of cancer is attributable to the environment. After accidents, cancer is the biggest killer of American children and childhood brain cancer increased almost 40% between 1973-1994.11 Studies link exposure to household chemicals to cancer, asthma, and learning disabilities. 10
  • Hormone disruption – Over the last 20 years, possibly due to environmental chemical exposures, puberty is starting earlier in girls and sperm counts are lower in men.
  • Autism, Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Hyperactivity Disorder in children have risen at alarming rates.

Research still being done:

Though many of the negative effects of these synthetic chemicals have only yet been proven in animals, Bill Walker, Vice President of the Environmental Working Group, says, “There’s never been a chemical found that affects animals, but has no effect on humans.”

Resources

  1. ecospecifier
  2. “Can environmental estrogens cause breast cancer?” Scientific American, October 1995, pg. 166-172
  3. http://epa.gov/hpv/pubs/general/hazchem.pdf or “The National Children’s Study: a 21-year prospective study of 100,000 American children, “ Pediatrics 118(5):2173-2186
  4. Dr. Herbert L. Needleman, quoted in Weiss, Bernard, and Phillip J. Landrigan (2000), “The Developing Brain and the Environment: An Introduction.” Environmental Health Perspectives 107 (suppl. 3):373-375.
  5. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006, 114(2), p. 260-263, titled “Organic diets significantly lower children’s exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides.”
  6. Landrigan Phillip 2002 Chronicle Effects of Toxic Environmental Exposures in Children’s health—clinical toxicology 40 pg. 449-456
  7. Greene, Dr. Alan M.D., Raising Baby Green. pg.277.
  8. http://archive.ewg.org/reports/bodyburden2/
  9. Landrigan, Phillip et. all (1998), “Children’s Health and the Environment: A new Agenda for Prevention Research, Environmental Health Perspectives 106 (suppl. 3): 787-794
  10. Lynda Fassa, Green Babies, Sage Moms. pg. 126.
  11. Landrigan, Phillip et. all (1998), “Children’s Health and the Environment: A new Agenda for Prevention Research, Environmental Health Perspectives 106 (suppl. 3): 787-794
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