How Environmental Toxins Affect Your Unborn Baby
The Womb that Nurtures the Child
Household Toxins Can Impair Baby’s Development
For nine months, pregnant mothers are provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to provide the environment that gives their babies a stronger and healthier start on life. There will never again be such a level of control over the way a child’s environment influences his or her development.
Dr. Alan Greene, author of Raising Baby Green, writes, “Just as the umbilical cord can deliver high-quality nourishment and the fortifying hydration of healthy liquids, it also can transport unhealthy air, food, water, and fumes if those elements are coursing through the mother’s body or in her environment.” As a pediatrician, Greene tells how he knew there was a link between environmental dangers and childhood illness, but then one day he discovered the magnitude.
It was the day he saw the preliminary results to a study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The study examined the umbilical cord blood of ten babies born in 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Greene writes, “These babies each carried an average of 200 chemicals, which included mercury, fire retardants, and pesticides. The report states, ‘Of the 287 chemicals we detected in umbilical-cord blood, we know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.’”
“Sadly, in this era even many babies are currently born with dangerous levels of toxins passed from their mothers while still ‘safely’ in the uterus. These toxins cause birth defects, learning disability, hyperactivity and set the stage for infant and childhood cancers,” writes Dr. Sherry Rogers, who is author of Detoxify or Die, and more than a dozen other books on environmental toxins.
Genetics: Do Environmental Toxins Affect My Baby’s Genes?
In a special pregnancy genetics episode of the Dr. Oz Show aired in late 2009, Dr. Oz and his colleagues reveal that environmental factors alter which genes are turned on and off. “How can I help influence my baby’s genes?” asks one pregnant woman. “The first thing,” responds guest expert ob/gyn Dr. Margaret McKenzie, “is that you can limit your exposure to toxins.” Dr. McKenzie then pulls out a plastic bottle of water and a can of soup, citing that BPA-containing compounds “affect the development of the brain and reproductive system of fetuses.” They are just two examples of environmental toxins that affect our children’s ability to thrive.
Chronic diseases among infants and children are at an all time high. Catherine DeAngelis, MD, reports in the June 27, 2007, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), “The impact of chronic diseases in childhood is enormous, whether measured economically or in terms of mortality and morbidity.” The report continues, “In 2003, 5 of the 10 leading causes of death in childhood were chronic diseases: malignant neoplasms; congenital malformations, deformations, and chromosomal abnormalities; diseases of the heart; chronic lower respiratory tract diseases; and cerebrovascular diseases.”
This was a JAMA special report on the chronic diseases of children today. A complete list of ailments on the rise is printed in Chapter 27-The Most Important Nine Months of Baby’s Life. Front and center of the patient page says, “Because prenatal (before birth) exposure to tobacco smoke, alcohol, and other toxins can affect baby’s health, it is important to extend environmental and nutritional concerns to women who may become pregnant.”
In 2009, Science Daily reports that scientists must pay more attention on “identification of environmental factors that can damage the prenatal immune system.”
Rodney Dietert is a researcher in the field of developmental immunotoxicology (DIT), which focuses on “the effects of exposure to biological materials, drugs, medical devices, chemical, and other environmental factors on the developing immune system in fetuses, infants, and children,” writes ScienceDaily. They tell that “Research so far suggests links between those factors and an increased risk of asthma, autism, diabetes, leukemia, and other important diseases.”
In his 2008 review in Chemical Research in Toxicology, Dietert traces the path of bodily toxins in Figure 1 below:
Figure 1: Developmental Immunotoxicology (DIT) is when the fetus is bombarded by toxins in the mom’s environment, which causes an immune dysfunction and ultimately leads to a host consequences throughout the child’s life. (Photo courtesy of Chemical Research in Toxicology)
Dietert writes, “Because the developing immune system is more sensitive to toxicant-induced alteration than that of the adult and the increased disease burden can span a lifetime, avoidance of DIT should be a major component in prenatal-perinatal preventative medicine. Avoiding toxic exposure offers a major opportunity for reducing childhood and adult health risks along with the associated burdens on both the health care system and the family financial base. Additionally, the opportunity to improve the quality of life for a significant percentage of children provides an added incentive.”
A Personal Appeal from the Author
Of the entire book, I found this section to be the most emotionally disturbing. My eyes swell even as these words are typed. See, individuals, like pregnant moms, can make the decision to breathe better, to move better, to eat better, and to birth better; each one of us can take responsibility over ourselves and our family to remove household toxins from our own homes and immediate environment—but we also need the world to change. We need to inspire others to understand exactly what is happening to the earth and all its creatures. Currently, almost one out of every two people will get cancer. I just read a report that more than one-quarter of the beluga whales found at the mouth of the Great Lakes (St. Lawrence River) had cancer. Our world is becoming a toxic dumpsite. As Dr. Greene affirms, “We are the environment; there is no separation. If a chemical is ‘out there’ it may also be ‘in here,’ in the most protected inner sanctum of our bodies.”
Big business and profits are the engines behind this terrible change, but they are not the ones to blame. The solution is actually rather simple and even heartening.
Perhaps the greatest mechanism for change was taught to me by my beloved mentor Paul Chek, in his Personal Professional and Spiritual Mastery Course. He told us to “Vote with Your Dollar!” I have employed that message ever since. I could easily see the logic in paying extra so that my family’s food is free from pesticides, but what about other areas of spending that seem less important to our immediate health? The astonishing power of my vote matters there as well. If tomorrow, alone, no one in the country purchased a chemical household cleaner or even one apple that has been grown from pesticides, entire corporations would be brought to their knees. The chemical manufacturers would lose so much money that many would never recover.
Every vote for a natural alternative is a vote that puts harmful chemical alternatives out of business. People who currently work for these corporations would immediately be forced to use their talents to develop green solutions. Along with this change in workforce allocation would soon be larger distribution and finally affordability for all. Before long, everyone would be spraying their kitchens with natural products, we would be employing wise farming practices that naturally repel insects, and our children’s toys would never again be recalled for toxicity. The power of the people would shine so bright that it would be remembered as the greatest grass-roots movement ever to change the world…perhaps to save the world, and our children.
All sweeping changes to the zeitgeist, or “spirit of the time,” begin by the few pioneers who are willing to give their time, money, and sometimes their life to a cause. For the pioneers of freedom in America, they were willing to give all three. Perhaps uniquely compared to other zeitgeists, however, those who spend their time and money to be natural will be risking their lives least.
Is it possible to be happy when you lie in bed feeling sick? Many of our loved ones around the world are trying to do that right now. But I don’t want to often feel that challenge. And I definitely don’t want my child to face that challenge. No, I want to die in my sleep the same evening I spend watching my great-grandkids play a soccer match. I want my great grandchildren to face challenges on the field, at school, in their career, and in love…not in the hospital, battling cancer they contract from the womb.
As I write this, many of you can feel how the few are becoming many. The trend for natural is changing and may even be approaching a tipping point. I am committed to be the one who does not have cancer. I am committed to break the current trend that forces cancer upon animals who have not contributed to the pollution. I am committed to spend my time and my money on what philosophers throughout history have called the only real happiness and the greatest of all human blessings and liberties: health. I will vote with my dollar.
A Simple Solution for Baby
“A mother-to-be owes it to herself as well as to her unborn to detoxify and clear these poisons out of her body before becoming pregnant,” says Dr. Rogers. Dietert discusses how the immune system has early windows of opportunity that are unparalleled with time periods later in life. He says these early windows are particularly sensitive to chemical disruption. Since detox during pregnancy can be dangerous for the baby, the next best solution is to minimize additional exposure wherever possible. The steps are straight-forward and covered in the next chapter.