Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chemicals before birth

I am becoming slightly overwhelmed about the number of chemicals we are exposed to and the daunting task of limiting our exposure. Even more overwhelming is the study the Environmental Working Group (EWG) did on cord blood.

The EWG tested the cord blood of 10 minority newborns. BPA was found in 9 out of 10 samples. Tetrabromobisphenol A was detected for the first time. TBBPA is a toxic flame retardant in computer circuit boards, fragrances, cosmetics, and detergents. Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) was also detected. PFBA is a member of the Teflon family so it can be found in non-stick coatings, textiles, and food packaging. Over 200 different chemical were detected in the cord blood of these 10 babies.

The cord blood came from 5 different states. EWG’s senior scientist and co-author of the report, Dr. Anila Jacob said they asked for minority cord blood because “in a sense our mission here is to map the degree of chemical contamination within the U.S. population. This is one segment that hasn’t been tested very much for chemical exposure—babies of racial or ethnic minority groups.”
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Another study by the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC) tested blood and urine from pregnant women on the Pacific Coast. All of them had BPA and mercury exposure. Most had several types of phthalates (plasticizers linked to reproductive problems and asthma). Lifestyle did not seem to make any impact on the levels of chemicals. Each women had 2-4 Teflon-type chemicals in her blood.

What is a parent to do???? Some of the best ways to decrease exposure to these chemicals is to avoid canned foods (the lining of almost all cans contains BPA), do not microwave in plastic (avoid microwaving as much as possible), use only BPA-free baby bottles (or glass).

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