Sharon Ufberg, DC discusses a recent seminar “Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World” examining environmental toxins in relation to pediatric health.

by Sharon Ufberg, DC

Always searching for new solutions to the evergrowing and overwhelming number of environmental health concerns, I was intrigued by the video clips available online from the July 2009, Mount Sinai Children Environmental Health Center’s seminar titled, “Raising Healthy Children in a Toxic World”. Speakers included Rhonda Sherwood, Vice Chairperson of the Environmental Health Center, Robert Kennedy, Jr., President of the Waterkeeper Alliance and Philip Landrigan, MD, Chair of the Department of Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The statistics they shared were not new to me but nevertheless still staggering:

* 20 pounds of pesticides produced per year for every man, woman and child in the USA.

* 80,000 synthetic chemicals registered with the Environmental Protection Agency used in consumer products, such as lawn pesticides, canned foods, shampoos, etc.

*Fewer than 6 specific chemicals banned from use based on critically outdated toxic chemical laws.

It was clearly stated that there has been a lackadaisical attitude toward the chemical revolution. The presumption of harmlessness and innocence has been the standard method of procedure—and our children, the most vulnerable, are exposed to a plethora of harmful substances.

125 different chemicals are routinely found in the cord blood of newborn infants and in the breast milk of nursing mothers. The cellular damage done by each individual chemical, and the combination thereof, is not well known. What is known, however, is the decline in our children’s overall health. Here again the statistics are not pretty. While infant mortality has declined, chronic diseases in our children are on the rise and continuing to increase.

Asthma is diagnosed in 1 of 8 children today. 1 in 180 boys are diagnosed with Autism, Cancer is on the rise with childhood leukemia leading the list, learning disabilities, allergies, birth defects, and multiple chemical sensitivities are all being seen in more prevalent numbers than ever before. In the community of East Harlem, New York, where Mount Sinai is located, 42% of children at age 5 entering kindergarten are clinically obese. Both asthma and obesity in children have reached epidemic proportions. How are chemicals in our society contributing to these facts?

Robert Kennedy, Jr. raised grave concerns about the lack of unbiased scientific research. Our University settings are heavily funded by the very companies that are pumping the chemicals into our food supplies and consumer products.

The good news is that diseases caused by toxic chemicals in our food and environment are preventable, according to Dr. Landrigran. Progress towards a healthier future, however, depends on proper, appropriate and unbiased research and strong political action and advocacy.

Unfortunately, I believe a more accurate title for the seminar should have been, “Raising Sick Children in a Toxic Environment.”  The time is NOW for each and every one of us to insist on change and progress towards a healthier environment for our children and future generations.