Pre-polluted Babies

Our neighbor’s 14-year-old son has been battling leukemia for the past two years.

My daughter’s classmate’s older sister died when she was eighteen of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

As parents we try so hard to keep our children safe and protected. The threat of cancer may seem amorphous: it’s not a contagious disease like the whooping cough that’s been going around our small town lately.

But, according to a 240-page report by the President’s Cancer Panel, our babies are coming into the world “pre-polluted.”

Exposure to harmful chemicals can be especially damaging during pregnancy. According to the report, three hundred different contaminants have been found in newborn umbilical cord blood.

I look at my six-month-old baby and I wonder if her blood is already contaminated, full of chemicals that may cause her cells to multiply out of control.

We know that childhood cancer is on the rise, but we don’t know exactly why. But harmful chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates (used to soften plastics) may very well be part of the problem.

What can we do? At the end of the report is a list of specific recommendations for individuals. It’s sort of a general but here are five things you can start doing today to reduce your children’s risk of exposure to carcinogens:

1. Don’t microwave plastics. Ever. The good teachers at my son’s school are still putting plastic in the microwave. When you do this harmful substances leech into your child’s food.

2. Don’t put plastics in the dishwasher.

3. Kill your microwave. The report does not say to do this but does mention several times that microwaves emit harmful radiation. We got rid of ours five years ago and have not missed it.

4. Eat as much organic food as possible. Even if you feel you can’t afford it for yourself, buy organic food (especially raw fruits and vegetables) for your children. Food grown with pesticides contain endocrine disruptors that may be carcinogenic.

5. Filter your drinking water.

Click here to download a PDF of the entire report.

Do any children or adults you know have cancer? Are you worried about your child’s exposure to harmful chemicals? What steps do you take to minimize exposure to cancer-causing environmental toxins?

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on Monday, May 17th, 2010 at 2:01 pm and is filed under health.
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