Ask Dr. Cathy

Junk In and Junk Out – Are Chemical Additives Making our Kids Sick?

August 14, 2018

In response to a growing body of evidence regarding how the synergistic and cumulative effect of chemical additives, environmental toxins, and endocrine disrupting chemicals affect children’s health, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement including guidelines for parents and healthcare providers. 

Small children and developing fetuses are most at risk from exposures to chemical additives because the exposure per pound of body weight is greater than an older person. Also, they have developing organs and systems that are more prone to disturbances. These exposures cause a domino effect, leading to disruptions in carbohydrate metabolism, immune responses, and thyroid hormone alterations. These disruptions are contributing to the increase in thyroid problems, hyperactivity, and cancer.  Some children are even more vulnerable to chemical exposures related to genetic predispositions and metabolic factors in how those genes are affected and expressed in the body.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics report, the chemicals of most concern include “bisphenols, phthalates, nonpersistent pesticides, perfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFCs), and perchlorate.” These chemicals are found in plastics, metal cans, adhesives, lubricants, grease-proof paper, antistatic agents, and bleach used to clean food and manufacturing equipment.

The  American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations to decrease exposure to these chemicals include:

“Prioritizing consumption of fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Avoiding processed meats, especially maternal consumption during pregnancy. Avoiding microwave food or beverages (including infant formula and pumped human milk) in plastic. Avoiding placing plastics in the dishwasher. Using alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible. Avoid plastics with recycling codes 3 (phthalates), 6 (styrene), and 7 (bisphenols) unless plastics are labeled as “biobased” or “greenware,” indicating that they are made from corn and do not contain bisphenols. Good hand-washing before handling foods and/or drinks, and washing all fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled.”

Also when evaluating products, be aware that the current FDA regulation of food additives GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) is not a guarantee that the products are free of the above mentioned chemicals and additives. Many previously approved chemicals contain them.

In addition to the AAP recommendations, other interventions that help decrease exposure and/or increase detoxification of these chemicals include:

  • Eating as much organic as possible or prioritizing organic foods using the “clean fifteen” and “dirty dozen” lists. https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
  • Using safe personal care products and using the EWG Skin Deep to check for toxic chemicals in skin, hair and nail care products. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/#.WyglbxJKit8
  • Using apps for checking product barcodes to decrease harmful chemical exposures. https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/
  • Minimizing contamination from topical exposure to chemicals in the pipes and water supply.
  • Using organic sheets, towels, and clothes such as pajamas, socks, and underwear.
  • Working with your healthcare provider to evaluate and address any metabolic or genetic processes that interfere with detoxification.
  • Optimizing detoxification systems to better handle the onslaught of chemicals exposed to in our daily environments. Examples of this include using Infrared saunas, eating organic cruciferous vegetables and working with your provider to find targeted supplements to support detoxification and methylation.

References:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/23/well/chemicals-food-children-health.html

http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2018/07/19/peds.2018-1408

Wishing you Health and Happiness,  

Dr. Cathy

http://drcathy.me/cathy-nutting/

Dr. Catherine Nutting earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from the University of South Florida and is certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. In addition, she earned a Diplomate Certification as an American Board of Anti-Aging Health Practitioner (ABAAHP) from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Dr. Nutting also completed an integrative medicine residency through the University of South Florida and holds a Masters of Medical Science in Nutrition and Metabolic Medicine. She is also a Fellow of Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine.