I’m convinced that environmental toxins affect learning disabilities. Children with special needs can be very susceptible to damage from toxins in their life, risking additional developmental, medical and neurological problems. However, removing toxins is as easy as making a few lifestyle changes, one at a time.
Raising two kids with special needs as I do requires a lot of different therapies, foods and treatments. It can be a daunting task to manage all their issues. There are two solutions to this dilemma. The first is get a team of practitioners: an M.D., a naturopath or homeopath, a nutritionist, and, of course, any type of therapy –traditional and/or alternative – that you wish to pursue for your child. This will be very costly and extremely time consuming. However, there is another option that you can start to do today that may help your child: live a environmental toxins free life.
Environmental Toxins, Learning Disabilities and You: 10 Reasons to Consider Removing Toxins
Here are 10 reasons you might want to consider embracing an environmental toxins free life if you are raising a child with learning, developmental or medical disabilities.
1. Phthalates in Your Home Can Disrupt Hormone Production
Phthalates are known as endocrine disruptors, which interrupt and affect proper hormone production. Studies have shown these chemicals to result in:
- Abnormal sexual development
- Reproductive birth defects
- Premature breast development
- Reduced IQ for children with prenatal exposure
You can eliminate phthalates by removing products that contain fragrances and scents and plastics, including plastic wrap and plastic toys manufactured before 2009, and plastic items marked #3 or #7, which sometimes contain them. Phthalates can also be found in unfiltered water and the sewage sludge on your conventional produce can be tainted with it. To be safe, consider filtering your water and buying mostly organic produce.
2. The Dangers of BPA in Your Food: Endocrine Disrupter and Carcinogen
BPA is another endocrine disruptor that’s probably lurking in your home, causing similar problems as phthalates. Healthy Child Healthy World reports that studies additionally link it to depression in teens and obesity. In 2010, the President’s Cancer Panel also listed several studies linking it to breast cancer and other health disorders. We want to keep our kids as healthy as possible! Eliminate BPA by avoiding canned foods or plastics marked “#7”. BPA used to be found in baby bottles and Sippy cups but it was banned in those products in 2012, so make sure to buy these products new, or avoid plastic altogether and switch to glass.
3. Artificial Color Linked is to ADD and ADHD
Artificial colors are, unfortunately, linked to ADD and ADHD as studies have shown. Not only do packaged foods, candy and juice contain a lot of these dyes, but school lunches are also chockfull of them! Let your child bring lunch to school to keep him safer. Today we are fortunate that we have so many options if we do want to give our children naturally colored foods: Surf Sweets candies, Color Garden Food coloring, and Annie’s, who make Macaroni & Cheese in many varieties with no artificial coloring. In addition, Kraft is reformulating its classic Mac & Cheese by removing artificial flavoring & preservatives as well as synthetic coloring. Keep watching for that change!
4. Antibiotics and Growth Hormones in Meat & Dairy Can Make Your Kids Sick
This is a great reason to switch to organic, grass fed dairy and meat. Conventional dairy cows are treated with the growth hormone rBGH to increase milk production but it can make these cows sick, causing them to pump unseen bacteria and pus into milk. rBGH has also been linked to breast cancer. In addition, conventional dairy and beef cows are raised with antibiotics. Studies show that this kind of antibiotic usage “contributing to the growth of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria,” according to Food Safety News. That means treated cows and livestock may actually have an increase in illnesses. In fact, Salmonella has already been known to spread among cows treated with antibiotics.
5. There are More Nutrients in Organic Grass Fed Dairy and Beef
Grass fed, organic meat and dairy is a safer choice for your family, especially if your child has medical sensitivities. In addition to being free of growth hormones and antibiotics, grass fed organic cattle can provide more balanced source of brain building Omega-3’s and more nutrients including Vitamins A, D, E, B-12 and beta carotene. Another great product in grass fed dairy is CLA, which is linked to loss of body fat, lowered risk of heart attack and may prevent cancer. Grass fed cows provide a higher level of CLA in your foods.
6. Glyphosate is Cancerous – and Everywhere
This herbicide is found in RoundUp Ready weed killer. The World Health Organization recently confirmed what we’ve believed at Mamavation for years: that glyphosate, a major component of herbicides, is a probable cause of cancer. Glyphosate is so prevalent is has been found in the breast milk of mothers – even moms who eat organic! In addition, glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor that has been linked to birth defects, tumors, obesity, destroying healthy gut bacteria, damages DNA and it may also linked to autism and other illnesses. Avoid this on your produce by eating organic.
7. Your Drinking Water May Damage Your Child’s Brain
We think of fluoride as something that is needed for our children’s dental health, but the truth is that for many communities, toxic levels of fluoride are pumped into the water. My own daughter has fluoride poisoning from the extremely high levels that are found in baby vitamins, according to our dentist. Worse than that, fluoride has been linked to neurological problems. A 2014 report published in the journal Lancet Neurology suggests a link between this chemical and lowered IQ in children. The report examined 27 studies done in China, using water that contained fluoride levels that our own U.S. EPA deems are safe. In addition, the researchers believe fluoride to be a developmental neurotoxin, producing damage that cannot be reversed or treated. As a result of environmental toxins, learning disabilities may increase. We recommend obtaining a water filter to remove these and other damaging toxins in your water supply.
8. You Kids May Be Eating Arsenic
We all know that arsenic is a poison but did you know that it may be lurking in both your drinking water and your pantry? In 2012, Consumer Reports discovered levels of arsenic in almost all 60 rice and rice products that they tested. Because of pesticides and fertilizer, inorganic carcinogenic arsenic is released into the soil where rice is grown and absorbed into outer layer of the rice kernel. In fact, brown rice has higher levels than white, because white rice strips that outer layer. Consumer Reports revisited this subject in January, reporting that “regular exposure to small amounts of arsenic can increase the risk of bladder, lung, and skin cancer, as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes… exposure in utero may have effects on the baby’s immune system.” The worst choices include brown rice cereal and pasta – beware if you are gluten free or feeding rice-based cereal to your baby. The lowest levels of arsenic found in rice includes white rice grown by my own favorite brand, Lundberg. Buckwheat, quinoa, millet and basmati rice from California are also safer choices.
9. Less Environmental Toxins May Mean a Better IQ for Your Child
As mentioned, prenatal exposure to phthalates is linked to lower IQs in children. Flame-retardants in your furniture, arsenic in your rice, triclosan in your hand sanitizer and fluoride in your water can also affect your child’s IQ. There are at least 10 toxic substances in your home that may be detrimental to your child’s brain. If your child is already struggling with learning disabilities, environmental toxins can increase her difficulties. The more we have cleaned out our own girls’ diets, the better they have performed academically. Learn what all 10 substances are and how you can remove or replace them.
10. You May Be Using Dangerous Cookware
This is a tough one because I know a lot of people still use nonstick cookware. According to Environmental Working Group, these products are coated with PTFE – better known as Teflon – you can inhale toxic chemicals when those pans get a little hot. Inhaling them can cause flu-like symptoms, but they also release PFCs that are in the Teflon, a more toxic substance EWG claims is linked to “smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies, elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.” Better options include glass, stainless steel, cast iron, ceramic and stone cookware. We chose glass and cast iron. If you generously coat your pans with oil (we use coconut), season and frequently use your cast iron, and quickly clean the items afterward, they will last longer and are easier to keep clean.
Start Slowly with Nontoxic Living
While scientists do more studies on the link between environmental toxins and learning disabilities, you can start making things better now. I know that the process of detoxing your home might sound overwhelming but you can do it! I recommend you start small by selecting one item at a time to fix. If I had to pick one, I would recommend removing BPA from your home first. Start buying food in BPA-free packages, like safer soups. Then, buy glass or food grade silicone containers to replace some of your plastics. Pyrex is a good glass brand that is fairly affordable and very sturdy. Remove one toxin and then move on to the next thing to tackle.
Toxic overload is a problem that can eat away at your child’s health, immunity, ability to learn, academic performance, behavior and more. Detoxing your family may sound like a big project, but it is something you can do with a little effort. The rewards for your child’s health and well-being will be worth it!
Disclosure: Bookieboo LLC has worked with numerous brands in the natural space, including Color Garden.