Consider these sobering facts:
- Children exposed to both tobacco smoke and lead are 800 percent more likely to develop ADHD.
- Childhood exposure to lead can cause permanent brain damage to those genetically susceptible. No region of the brain is spared.
- Adults with an average age of 21 who had been enrolled as infants in the Cincinnati Lead Study had IQ deficiencies as well as histories of juvenile delinquency and criminal arrests.
- Baby boys whose mothers used insect repellants in the first three months of pregnancy were at an increased risk of a birth defect called hypospadias (the urethra, which carries urine from the bladder to the opening of the penis, is shortened).
- A study of pregnant women by the Washington Toxics Coalition learned that:
- Every woman tested had been exposed to Bisphenol A (BPA), which is linked to a number of adverse health effects. BPA has been found in the lining of nearly every kind of food container, baby bottles, dental sealants and composite fillings, among other products.
- Every woman tested had been exposed to at least two — and in some cases, to as many as four — perfluorinated chemicals. Known as Teflon chemicals, these are used in manufacturing nonstick cookware.
- Every woman had been exposed to mercury, which is known to harm the development of the brain in the unborn.
- Every woman had been exposed to at least four phthalates, which are linked to adverse health effects. Phthalates are used to make fragrances last longer and also to soften plastic in personal-care products, shower curtains, baby toys, etc.
The Seattle Post Globe published a story about one mother who took part in the Washington Toxics Coalition study. Trained as a midwife, while pregnant she walked a 3-mile trail twice a week, swam weekly, took prenatal yoga classes, tried to eat mostly organic foods and avoided any scented lotions or other personal-care products. And yet, she rated the worst among the women tested for Teflon chemicals. An advocate of breast-feeding, she now worries that while breast-feeding to insure optimal nutrition for her infant son, she will pass chemicals along to him in her breast milk as she did, unwittingly, through her placenta.
Johns Hopkins University’s study of cord blood samples from 20 newborns revealed hundreds of chemicals, this from cord blood most of us would expect to be uncontaminated. With only about 200 of the 80,000 chemicals in our environment having been tested for their effects on humans, the American population is unknowingly taking part in an experiment. Dr. Phil Landrigan of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine has warned the medical community that 1 in 6 American children is now behavior- or learning-disabled because of exposure to chemicals. To add to this gloomy picture, studies have shown that genes are turned on or off by environmental factors, so future generations will also be impacted.
All children deserve the best protection we can provide, but the government is failing to shield our most vulnerable population — the unborn — from chemicals in the environment.