In a recently released video entitled “Little Things Matter”, a research team reveals that tiny, cumulative exposures to chemicals you and your child encounter everyday can derail normal brain development. To date, most studies have focused and confirmed the dangerous impact of high level exposure to toxins such as lead. What was less well-established was the effect of very low-level, day-to-day exposures. That is no longer the case.

Emerging studies are pointing to the fact that these seemingly insignificant exposures can not only lower IQ but raise the risk of behavioral conditions including ADD, ADHD and hyperactivity. “The evidence is really mounting that industrial chemicals have some contribution to neurodevelopment problems,” said Tracey Woodruff, director of the University of California, San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment. ” And we’re seeing more kids with these problems.”

Who is at the Greatest Risk? The fetus and children up to age two.

Dr. Philippe Grandjean, toxicology adviser to the Danish National Board of Health, has been researching the impacts of pollution and chemicals his entire life. His aptly-titled book “Only One Chance” explains why it is imperative to protect the brain.

  1. You only get 1 chance to develop a brain.
  2. Development involves multiple stages that must be completed sequentially.
  3. These processes are uniquely vulnerable.
  4. Damage leads to permanent change.

It is a fact that in the womb and up to age two, billions of brain cells are forming in a very specific sequence. Now, it is also a fact that certain neurotoxins have the potential to disrupt this sequence which can cause irreversible brain damage.

Were you and your child exposed to these toxins TODAY? Most likely, yes.

Did you feed your child formula? Many contain fluoride, linked to lower IQ.

Did you touch a receipt? Many are coated with high levels of BPA, a chemical that presents a high hazard to “developmental” human health.

Did you or your child use antibacterial soap? It likely contains triclosan, a possible thyroid disruptor. It also has the ability to pass through the placenta and at unknown levels starve a fetus of oxygen.

Did you or your child eat conventional fruits or vegetables? Some contain pesticide residues such as chlorpyrifos. Widely used in food crops, it’s known for its damaging effects on the nervous system and can have “grim effects on fetal brain development.”

Just because these products are available in stores and are widely used, does NOT mean they are safe. Of the more than 80,000 chemicals approved for use in the U.S., only 200 have been tested by the EPA and only 5 have been banned. The reality is that “aside from chemicals added directly to food, there are no mandatory health and safety studies required to put a chemical into commercial use in the United States (Toxics Substances Control Act, 15 USCA 2601-2692).”

Was your baby born with industrial chemicals in their umbilical cord blood? These babies were. And these African American, Hispanic and Asian babies were.

In 2005, EWG spearheaded a study to test for the presence of industrial chemicals in the umbilical cord blood of 10 unborn American babies. The report stated, “Of the 287 chemicals they detected, 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.”

In 2009, EWG conducted a similar study and analyzed the umbilical cord blood of 10 minority infants. They found up to 232 industrial chemicals in the blood and for the first time, BPA was detected.

Where are all these chemicals coming from?

Well, the first thing most parents do when they know they’re going to become parents is create a nursery, right? This often involves remodeling, painting, carpeting, buying a crib, rocking chair, changing table, dresser drawers, and a diaper disposal wastebasket.

What is actually being created is one of the most toxic rooms imaginable.

Mary Cordaro is a healthy building and interiors consultant who has witnessed the effects of nursery projects on a newborn’s health. Her sage advice is “less is more.”

It is clear. “We are conducting a massive clinical toxicological trial, and our children and our children’s children are the experimental subjects,” Herbert Needleman and Philip Landrigan, 1994

Government is moving too slowly to protect children from this danger and the vast majority of doctors are not informing pregnant women or women considering getting pregnant of this very real risk.

So, what can you do?

Educate yourself and drastically reduce your exposure to chemicals.

The Good News: It Works.

By becoming more aware and reducing exposures, levels can drop dramatically. In an interesting experiment, NBC News’ Andrea Canning had her and her children’s chemical exposure levels tested. The video report shows her family had been using products and eating foods that millions of Americans use every day. While her levels of hormone disruptors (BPA, triclosan and phthalates) were generally equivalent to the national mean, her six-month old’s levels of triclosan were 10 times higher than the national mean. Her toddler’s levels of triclosan were 100 times higher than the national average for much older children.

And yet, by making some simple lifestyle changes, her levels dropped to nearly ZERO!

Lifestyle Changes to Protect and Improve IQ

Here are ten things that you can do right away to lower you and your family’s risk.

  1. Eat organic food.
  2. Choose fresh or frozen whole foods.
  3. Avoid canned and processed foods.
  4. Don’t eat fish especially if you’re pregnant.
  5. Don’t use pesticides in and around your home.
  6. Check for lead hazards in paint and toys.
  7. Keep floors and surfaces free of dust.
  8. Don’t use chemicals on pets.
  9. Don’t use any products containing triclosan and avoid antibacterial products.
  10. Use glass containers, not plastic.
  11. Don’t touch any receipts. Keep a separate bag to put them in.
  12. Install a Reverse Osmosis Water Purifier and have children only drink this water.

In the words of the renowned Dr. Philippe Grandjean, “The brain is such a treasure. We need to protect it vigorously.”