Babies and Harmful Chemical Exposure

Baby Girl Woodland’s due date is approaching and throughout this pregnancy I have thought back to an article I had read when I was first starting this journey as to how babies are born pre-polluted with harmful chemicals.

There was a point in time that scientists believed that the placenta shielded the baby from harmful environmental chemicals and pollutants. We now know that that isn’t the case and that much of what the mother is exposed to transfers to the developing baby.

A study that was lead by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Commonweal, researches found 287 chemicals and pollutants in 10 babies they tested from August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. The chemicals they found included pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage. Of the 287 chemicals detected, 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests. The effects that these exposures have during this time in development have never been tested.

What we do know is that chemical exposures in the womb or during infancy can be dramatically more harmful than exposures later in life. The vulnerability stems from the rapid development and incomplete defense systems:

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

I will never have regrets about my pregnancy with Elijah and the choices I made. I feel I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. But, I’ve learned more and am constantly striving to do better for my family and myself. This is always a journey about progress and I love helping sharing what I have learned with others so they can take that information and utilize it as they wish.

References:
http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/health/babies-are-polluted-at-birth-new-report-says/625/
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wendy-gordon/cancer-panel-warning-babi_b_569291.html

 

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