Dr. Philippe Grandjean, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and Dr. Philip Pandrigan of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York published a report this month the The Lancet Neurology calling world governments to initiate a hard crackdown on the widespread use of chemicals (industrial in particular) that we’ve been using with reckless abandon for decades.

The report suggests that there are now nearly 12 known chemicals that contribute to causing neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADD, dyslexia and cerebral palsy; a number that has doubled in 7 years, along with an upswing in the number of harmful unregulated chemicals (meaning nobody gives a hoot when they should) in toys, furniture and clothing to 214. That’s 214 harmful chemicals that have been green-lighted by governments without adequate oversight. The report specifically nailed Canada along with the US for lagging behind the progress made by European governments. There’s a real shocker (sarcasm intended).

“Until manufacturers are legally required to prove that all existing and new industrial chemicals are non-toxic before hitting the marketplace – similar to the EU’s reformed chemical law REACH – we are facing a pandemic of neurodevelopmental toxicity,” explained Dr. Grandjean, also making note of the fact that these diseases are seeded during pregnancy when the mothers are exposed to these chemicals. Babies are exposed to these prevalent chemicals before they are even born. Umbilical-cord blood has been shown to contain pesticides, PCBs, and PFCs among many others. Unsurprising considering that we’ve allowed the widespread use of synthetic chemicals with little care for the consequences.

Dr. Grandjean stated that in the US, the costs of managing the complications of chemical exposure costs well over $50 billion dollars annually. “The vast majority of the more than 80,000 industrial chemicals in widespread use in the U.S. have never been tested for their toxic effects on the developing fetus or child. The real impact on children’s health is just beginning to be uncovered.”

While we’re waiting for monumental changes to this absurd situation, the best we parents can do is to limit exposure wherever possible. Natural household cleaners, natural personal cleaners, natural material fibres for clothes, natural laundry detergent, no bounce sheet (deal with static cling or use a chemical-free alternative), low/zero VOC paints, and become more mindful of the food you purchase and where it comes from.  Furthermore, waiting for politicians to wade through a sea of red tape before enacting change in these regards can take decades.  As parents, if enough of us use our wallets to elect cleaner products, manufacturers will take notice, and change their tune to meet our demand long before governments can improve regulation.     

From a dietary perspective, adequate protein, b-vitamins and anti-oxidants (translated as a balanced whole foods diet) will ensure that livers everywhere will be equipped for Phase 1 and 2 detoxification.  Generally speaking, fewer ingredients are preferable.  Be sure to read ingredient lists and familiarize yourself with anything to which you are unsure.  Don't trust manufacturers to tell you it's natural and still mean it.  

If you get stuck, we're here to help!

Study Abstract: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/abstract