Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Toxins found in infant crib mattresses cause health problems

For many new parents, finding a good crib mattress seems to be a trivial thing. You just need to make sure the mattress is firm, not soft and fits snugly in the crib, right?

Well, there are a whole lot of reasons to dig a little deeper and ditch the conventional crib mattresses. When we bring home our new bundle of joy, we want to put them in a safe environment. But crib mattresses are loaded with toxic chemicals, many of which can leach and outgas, having possible negative health effects. And considering infants spend most of their young lives asleep in their beds, it’s certainly a very important and critical element to consider.

Scientists also recently discovered the chemicals in traditional crib mattresses may cause SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). One reason why the back-to-bed campaign has been so successful at reduces the instances of SIDS, is that babies faces are no longer directly against the mattress breathing higher concentrations of the toxic chemicals.

Common toxins in conventional crib mattresses are:

PVC – polyvinylchloride found nearly everywhere in our environment. releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.
Phthalates – a synthetic substance just banned in children’s products by the US government. It’s associated with asthma, reproductive issues and cancer.
DEHP - the most common phthalate used in crib mattresses has been banned in Europe for years.
Polyurethane foam – a highly flammable, cheap substance highly treated with a host of chemicals to make it flame retardant. Not only does it easily ignite, it releases deadly gases when it is ignited. 
pentaBDE – The most common chemical fire retardant used to made polyurethane foam flame retardant, is a toxin associated with hyperactivity and neuro-behavioral alterations. PentaBDE is not bound to the foam, and leaches out into the surrounding air. It’s been banned in Europe for many years and in California since 2006.
Antimony – used as a flame retardant
Pesticides and boric acid – used to treat cotton in the mattress
Latex treated with pesticides

HealthyChild.com also offers detailed information on why traditional crib mattresses post significant health risks to infants and toddlers.

“… EPA has determined that infants up to age two are, on average, ten times more vulnerable to carcinogenic chemicals than adults, and for some cancer causing agents are up to 65 times more vulnerable… children accumulate up to 50 percent of their lifetime cancer risk by their second birthday… many chemicals linked to mutagenic activity are commonly used in consumer products and can contribute to children’s exposure to carcinogens.”
(Children’s Health Policy Review: “EPA Cancer Policy Revisions Highlight Risks to Children.” 3 Mar. 2003.
Environmental Working Group. www.ewg.org/issues/risk_assessment/20030303/index.php)

 

But never fear, there are safe, organic mattresses on the market that are free of these substances. Organic wool is naturally flame resistant so no chemicals are needed. It’s also naturally resistant to dust mites, mold, mildew and bacteria. Organic cotton is also a great alternative because it gives better air circulation allowing the baby to breathe better.

Do read the fine print and ensure the mattress is 100% organic and no where on the labeling or website does it list any of the toxins mentioned above. You can also call the Organic Consumer’s Association to get a list of stores that carry all-organic mattresses.

Here is a snippet from another article, it’s very disturbing, and once again proves how our government organizations are not protecting us from toxins:

“According to the CPSC risk assessment, they state that EVERY night, the average person (and infant) will absorb the following chemicals:
.802 mg Antimony (similar to arsenic – a known poison)
.081 mg Boric Acid (the active ingredient in Roach Killer)
.073 mg DBDPO (also known as DECA, a suspected carcinogen)
However, the CPSC stands by its controversial decision and says, this is level of chemical absorption is safe and poses no known health risks.

However, they excluded children under five years of age from their risk assessment by assuming all these children will be protected by a vinyl sheet over their mattresses, due to bedwetting problem. Their assumption is that this vinyl covering will protect them from the FRC’s in their mattress.

However, antimony has been proven by European researchers to leech through vinyl covers, and has been found in high concentrations in infants livers, who have succumbed to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).

Fearing a possible link, these same researchers looked at all cases of SIDS in their country and were able to statistically link this to the high levels of antimony in the crib mattresses. In fact, high levels of antimony were found in the livers of dissected human infants killed by SIDS.

For this reason, Europe has been moving away from using flame retardants in their mattresses and requires them be proven safe before being used. Many countries in Europe have even banned them. As a result, SIDS deaths have decreased over much of Europe.

Even New Zealand has virtually eliminated most cases of SIDS by preventing these mattress toxins from being absorbed by the infants, via a special mattress covering. They instituted a nationwide policy in 1994 to “wrap” crib mattresses with a special blanket to prevent the mattress toxins from poisoning the infants. It has been demonstrated that no infant has ever died of SIDS when sleeping on a “wrapped” mattress.”

Pretty infuriating isn’t it? For these reasons, I am getting an organic mattress for my son, who’s arrival is expected in just 12 weeks. My daughter also sleeps on a standard crib mattress in her toddler bed, and I likely will replace hers as well. I hate to think she has been exposed to these toxins for nearly 2.5 years.

I have researched and found these mattresses that are 100% organic. Please note this is not a comprehensive list! If you know of other 100% organic mattresses, please let me know and I will add them to this list. 

Naturepedic: all have 100% organic cotton filing
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Classic $259
No-Compromise Organic Cotton Ultra $359
2 in 1 Organic Cotton Ultra $399
Quilted Organic Cotton Deluxe (note, does not have a waterproof cover) $339 
Port a crib pad $149 

Natural Mat
Latex Mat $385 Made of organic latex, organic lambswool and double organic cotton cover 
Mohair Mat $625 (mohair is from horsetail, which naturally springs back to its original shape). Also made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton. 
Coco Mat $375 Made of coir (from coconuts), organic lambswool and organic cotton.

Pure Rest
Organic Crib Mattress Innerspring with Edge Supports
Organic Innerspring Crib Mattress (Cotton & Wool) $299 242 coils, organic cotton filling, organic wool batting.

Eco Baby has a variety of mattresses ranging from $299 – $399

Pixel Organics
REFILL mattress is an interesting product in that it recycles food grade plastic bottles into filling for this crib mattress. Also uses organic cotton and wool. $170
Natural Rubber and Organic Wool $150
100% Organic 510 Coil Inner Spring Crib Mattress $342
100% Organic Natural Rubber Crib Mattress $490. Also uses organic cotton and wool.

Related Articles
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BPA free bottles, sippy cups and more
BPA and phthalate free pacifiers
BPA and phthalare free teethers and rattles
Toxins in cosmetics and beauty products
President Bush Signs Product Safety Bill to protect children

Breastfeeding: Why doctors are so wrong about solids

I found this very interesting news brief today…. it supports the view of the WHO, AAP, AAFP and Unicef’s recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with continued breastfeeding for a minimum of 2 years.

“Doctors are keen to introduce solids as early as possible as a supplement to breast feeding – and they couldn’t be more wrong.

Babies who are exclusively breastfed for the first three months at least – and sometimes for the first 12 months – have better cognitive abilities and general intelligence by the time they are six.

Compared with children who were fed solids early on, breastfed babies registered far higher scores for verbal IQ, performance IQ and general IQ when they were tested at six-and-a-half years. 

Researchers made the discovery when they assessed the cognitive development of 13,889 children who were exclusively breastfed for a prolonged period.”

Nontoxic backpacks for back to school

I found this article with a great list and some tips for selecting non-toxic backpacks for back to school. My daughter is just 2, so I have not looked into this, but lucky for those who do have school-aged children, someone has already done the research for safe back pack options.

“While Congress has recently voted to ban toxic lead and phthalates from toys,  the legislation does not cover children’s backpacks, many of which are made of vinyl containing both toxic substances. Lead, high exposures of which cause learning problems (not so cool for back to school) and phthalates, linked to obesity and lower sperm counts, readily migrate out of vinyl and onto children’s fingers, and thence into their mouths. Phthalates also evaporate into the air and get inhaled; studies have shown they contribute to asthma and other respiratory problems in children.

When shopping for backpacks, make sure they’re PVC-free at a minimum, and made of recycled materials to get an E (for eco and excellence) plus. Here are some recommendations.”

Related Articles
PVC and Lead-free lunch boxes

Do McDonalds chicken nuggets contain butane?

Someone mentioned to me that McDonald’s sprays their chicken nuggets with butane (lighter fluid). Not one to take everything for truth, I embarked on my own research to find out if this was true, and well, basically it is. I am VERY glad I do not eat McDonald’s and even more glad my daughter never has and now she certainly never will.

Here is what I found:
These two paragraphs are taken directly from The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There’s some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.

According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the “leavening agents”: sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are “anti-foaming agents” like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it’s also flammable.

But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to “help preserve freshness.” According to A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause “nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse.” Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

Yum, sounds good doesn’t it? I have not seen anywhere that says whether or not Europe allows this junk in their food. I am guessing not because they are better at protecting their consumers than the FDA. I am pretty sure high fructose corn syrup is illegal in Europe, just for one thing.

Though Wikipedia does not mention a link TBHQ to butane, it still does not paint a very flattering picture. And yes I realize Wikipedia is not a great source.

Sources:

http://www.alnyethelawyerguy.com/al_nye_the_lawyer_guy/2007/03/so_what_really_.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TBHQ

http://beholdhealth.com/v2008/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=57

Lead in the Garden Hose

Don’t drink from the hose!! Of course, who didn’t do this as a kid? Who has not run through the sprinkler? Well, as it turns out, the entire time, we were being exposed to lead. Not until recently was it made public that lead is a staple in garden hoses. Look at the package of virtually any hose and you will see a warning stating something like “NOT INTENDED FOR DRINKING WATER” or “DO NOT DRINK FROM HOSE.” Other warnings include “wash hands after use” and some recommend wearing gloves while handling the hose.

ABC and Consumer Reports did a test on 10 different hoses and found levels of lead 10 to 100 greater than the allowable EPA standards. Lead as you likely know, is extemely dangerous and can lead to irreversible brain damage and other health issues.

That makes me want to run out and play with the hose, water my garden, run through the sprinkler and take a long cold drink of water from it.

Our children are most vulnerable since they are so small and are more affected as many toys they gum, the tubs they bath in, etc. may also contain trace or excessive amounts of lead.

The good news is, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your children.
1. Avoid brass fittings. They can also leach lead into the water.
2. Read the package before you buy. If it says “do not drink” then do not buy.
3. If you do have a hose tainted with lead, take care in its use. Do not use it to drink from, fill the pool or water plants that will be a food source or plants near a food source.
4. Keep the hose away from the reach of children.
5. Store the hose in a cooler place (apparently leaving in the sun makes the leaching worse).
6. Flush the hose before each use.
7. Buy a drinking water safe hose. They are surprisingly not much more expensive than traditional hoses, I am talking a few dollars in most cases. Look for hoses for marine and camper use. 

Drinking Water Safe Hoses
EZ-Coil-n-Store Drinking Water Hose

RV Drinking Water Hose – 50′

Gilmour 12 Series 5 Ply Marine & Recreation Hose, 5/8 Inch x 75 Feet

Apex NeverKink Boat and Camper 2000 1/2-Inch-by-50-Foot Hose

News articles 
ABC News

Consumer Reports

TruKid Sunny Days Sunscreen: Product Review

This stuff is GREAT!! After the recent report on most sunscreens failing to work, I consulted the EWG’s list of what they considered to be the safer and most effective of the sunscreens. TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen lotion and TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Water Resistant Face Stick were both on the list, so I ordered some from Amazon for our beach trip.

The bottles are small I will say, however, compared to California Baby, it’s less expensive. The product has a nice citrus scent, it goes on smooth and does not feel greasy. It also does not leave a white mess like other lotions. And most importantly, we did not get burned! I admit, I got a little pink one day, but that was my own fault for not reapplying soon enough, and I am very pasty white right now! But we kept reapplying it about every 90 minutes or so, and everyone on our trip got burnt except us! They were using Bull Frog mainly and they were reapplying, too.

Another bonus, the customer service and shipping were great! I ordered from Amazon.com and the shipment arrived in about 4 days. I emailed to check the status, but about an hour later it arrived, so I emailed back to say never mind it had arrived, but they still responded! They are also working with Whole Foods to try and get the product on the shelves there. I hope they do!

Both the TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen lotion and TruKid Sunny Days SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen Water Resistant Face Stick are fantastic products and I highly recommend them. We will definitely be loyal customers!

Flavor of breastmilk may influence child eating habits

Any breastfeeding mother will tell you that her diet can definitely affect her milk, but this takes a step beyond that saying the varying flavor of breastmilk can influence the child’s eating habits when he starts eating solid foods. The study suggests that breastfed babies are used to a variety of flavors and are more willing to accept new foods than a formula fed baby. Formula is very bland and the flavor never changes, so a formula fed baby may not be as willing to give a new food much of a chance.

I can definitely see this with my daughter who breastfed until she was 2. She still nurses occasionally. My daughter eats pretty much anything, especially hummus, lima beans, Mexican food, broccoli, and jambalaya. She also will eat salsa and likes spicier foods. I will say that I ate a lot of all these foods when I was pregnant and nursing. Other moms I talk to (who I know formula fed) are in envy of the variety of foods she will eat.

Now of course, this is not an exact science. There will be breastfed babies who are picky eaters and formula fed ones who will eat absolutely anything you put in front of them. But for sure the flavor of breastmilk definitely changes, and that is something that is only beneficial. More research would need to be done to get a better idea of the extent breastmilk can influence a child’s eating habits later in life. And as more mother’s are making the decision to breastfeed, that could help encourage better eating habits and lower the rates of childhood obesity.

Read the entire article here.

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