Response to Op.Ed. on Environmental Toxins & Neurodevelopmental Disorders
[Note: This blog article is in response to the February 24, 2010 New York Times Op. Ed by Nicholas Kristof titled, "Do Toxins Cause Autism?"]
By Tesi Kohlenburg
Kristof is on the mark here in so many ways. Philip Landrigan was the keynote speaker at my organization's Fall conference here, and his talk was both fascinating and frightening.
As a pediatrician, as a child psychiatrist, and as a mother, there are a handful of things that I believe we all should do NOW:
1. Stop heating food in plastics. ( And don't put away warm left-overs in plastic containers, either. And don't drink things that have been left sitting in plastic bottles in warm locations like cars. And don't drink soft drinks and juices from plastic bottles -- evidence is beginning to come in that the acids in soda pull chemicals out of the plastic bottles that are themselves promotors of obesity, independent of the calories in the soda. Most of all, don't put baby formula in plastic bottles containing Bisphenol A or other plasticizers.)
2. Learn which are the most pesticide-contaminated kinds of fruits and veggies, and either don't buy them, or buy them organic.
( Berries, which are so good for us in many ways, are sadly among the worst offenders in terms of pesticide contamination.)
3. Read labels, and reduce or eliminate our exposure to food dyes and preservatives. This means making our family's meals from uncontaminated whole foods, fresh fruits and veggies, meat that hasn't been given hormones, etc... not eating from boxes, bags, and cans full of additives, stabilizers, texturizers etc.
4. Be very careful about disposing of chemicals. Whatever we put in the water goes into our world. See this CBS News report on the contamination of our drinking water with prescription medications: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE7OK9sMDvo
This emerging knowledge can protect all of us and our children from the consequences of exposure to air, water, food and household materials full of newly-invented chemicals, many of which have not been tested, and a good number of which are now being shown to have undesirable effects on our bodies and brains. These chemicals can have powerful effects on fetal development and in early childhood, when all of the cells are differentiating and learning where they belong and how they're supposed to function.
With great concern and also hope that we can change,
[Tesi Kohlenburg is a physician and the parents of a child with apraxia of speech, dyspraxia]