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Environmental Illness in Children

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Reprinted with permission from the Safe Living Letter.

Most parents have been through the all nighters with the new baby. We are always trying to quiet the crying, trying to figure out why the child is crying, why their eyes are red, why they look sick but aren't running a fever. We've all been there, the feeling of frustration, the feeling of fear. How many parents have made the trip to the all night pharmacy to find something that will stop the problem.

Eventually, there is the trip to the emergency room. We spend the night waiting for our turn among the car wrecks and fist fight victims. Then someone hands us a sample of medicated drops and we go home. The image of the doctor or nurse shrugging their shoulders remains with us for a long time afterwards.

The problem is that children react to more than just germs and viruses.

The medical community has historically focused on these as causes for diseases.

Many children suffer from illnesses that are caused or made worse by their surroundings. According to Tommy Lyle, one of the leading experts on healthy homes, The baby's room is probably the most dangerous room in the house. Mr. Lyle states that many of the most dangerous things in the baby's room are placed there by the parents.

Just before the arrival of the new family member, the parents paint the room, put in new carpet, install humidifiers, and fill the room with new bedding.

When the room causes the child to become ill, the parents rush the small child off to the doctor. But, if the child doesn't have any signs like measles or mumps, people just write it off as one of those child things. The MD writes a prescription for something that will make the child feel more comfortable. The doctor tells the parents to watch for any problems and call if anything develops. Then they send the child back to the cause of the problem.

If we listen to the daily news, we know that we live in an unsafe world.

Pollutants are all around the home. Waste dumps and toxic landfills are popping up in every community. Air pollution, pollen, insecticides, lawn care materials, unsafe foods and electromagnetic fields are all contributing to a new medical problem . . . Environmental Illness.

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Few people suspect that their own homes are polluted. But every time we open the door or window, the junk in the outside air comes floating in.

Every time we take a shower or drink tap water, we are exposing our bodies to the toxic materials of the outside world. Remember that the chlorine that kills the germs in our water supplies was used during World War I in chemical warfare? Since people know this, the sale of water purifiers and bottled water has sky-rocketed. A side note: We are exposed to more chlorine in the shower than from drinking tap water. It actually comes through the skin.

The people in the know have done a good job educating the public about air quality in the house. This has also led to an upswing in sales of air filters. Many of these small room filters have found their way into baby's room and do a good job removing large dust particles from the air.

This keeps these large dust particles from the youngster's developing lungs.

Air filters are a very popular item when someone in the family smokes.

When a parent hears that their smoking habit may endanger their child's health, it can be very scary.

There are a lot of other things floating about in the air besides smoke and dust.

The child is also exposed to mold and their spores. If we don't maintain the proper humidity and air circulation, we will get mold growth. The mold shoots spores (little seeds) into the air and when a sensitive person breathes them, they create an allergic reaction. A child's bedroom is usually poorly ventilated because parents are afraid of creating a draft. And they run a humidifier to raise the moisture in the room because someone said that someone else said that they heard it from a reliable source that it was a good idea.

So the mold loves the room.

What makes mold even worse is that some molds, such as Stachybotrys, can cause death in children. It enters the lungs and begins to break down the tissue and the child cannot breathe enough oxygen to maintain life.

Mold isn't the only creature living in the baby's room. Dust mites love all bedrooms. The dust mite is actually a good friend. Each day we lose billions of old skin cells. This is a large part of the dust that floats around our houses. We add 5 pounds of dead skin to our mattresses each year. The dust mite does us a favour by eating this dead skin. If it were not for this small creature we would be covered in a mountain of dead skin.

But the dust mite, like all creatures, leaves waste deposits. Dust mite fecal material causes allergic reactions in many people. And we sleep with our faces in or near these dust mites.

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When the mold and dust get bad enough, the parents wash down the room with chemical disinfectants. The child then has to breathe the fumes.

Many children become sensitive to the fumes and the sensitivity follows them the rest of their lives.

In addition to the fumes from disinfectants, children are exposed to the fumes from all the plastic materials in the room. The plastic mattress covers, the plastic diaper covers, diaper pails, etc. Specialists in the field of environmental health refer to this problem of fumes as outgassing. This outgassing is very irritating to young lungs and can lead to coughing and sinus problems.

We have other sources of outgassing in baby's room. New parents wallpaper the baby room. Formaldehyde, one of the most toxic of materials, is found in many brands of wallpaper. It seeps out into the air that the baby breathes.

Over the years the news media have written about lead in old paints being eaten by children and how this results in health problems. Now there are news reports about lead in plastic blinds.

Carpets can be made of very toxic materials. The same carpets that babies crawl around on and chew on.

New construction vapours from wood and other building materials can be very irritating to adults. So you know the baby would have a hard time with them.

Adults who are sensitive to these various materials usually know to avoid them. But the baby can't tell us what's causing the runny nose, coughing, red eyes etc. So we just figure that it is a childhood bug going around.

Illnesses result from the contaminates, and may last a lifetime. Recently the news was all a-buzz about Dr. Kavorkian helping with the suicide of a woman with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Many believe that this condition is related to environmental illness.

All right, we now know the horrors of the baby room. Now what do we do about it?

Of course, it's best if the whole house is safe, but let's at least make the baby's room safe.

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No carpets. Vacuuming carpets is not adequate to remove dust mites that burrow into the fibres of the carpet. Dust mite parts and their waste, and mold spores will move through the vacuum dust bag and re-enter the air. They will float there for 8 to 10 hours. Use throw rugs. They can be laundered for cleanliness.

HEPA filtration is necessary. Very often the things that cause problems are too small to be filtered out by normal air filtration. The HEPA filters can get the smallest of the small when it comes to airborne particles. If the stuff isn't floating around in the air, the baby isn't likely to breathe it into their lungs and noses.

Probably the best on the market are the filters put out by Aller Med and Austin Air. Not only do their filters have the HEPA filters, but they contain filters that will remove many chemical contaminates in the air as well.

Air circulation is next on our must-do list. Often the air moved about by the air conditioner or heater misses parts of the house. This creates safe havens for mold growth. Mold loves to hide where the air stands still. Install a ceiling fan and have it pull the air up away from the baby.

Moisture Control finishes out the big three. Relative Humidity, the amount of moisture in the air, should be in the 40-60% range. Lower and you increase the cases of respiratory and lung infections, Allergic Rhinitis, and asthma. You also get a rise in toxic ozone formation at the lower humidity. So don't put a dehumidifier in the baby's room.

If the Relative Humidity is higher than 60% you get a rise in bacterial, virus, mold, and dust mite growth. So don't put a humidifier in the baby's room either Devices that measure relative humidity can be bought at most electronic stores.

Place the baby's mattress in a barrier cloth encasement. According to bedding experts, barrier cloth is woven so closely, 300 count per inch, that the dust mites have a hard time crawling through it. So as we gather from the name, it creates a barrier between the mites and the baby.

To see if you have slowed the growth of mold in the baby's room you should test for airborne Mold Spores. You can get the test plates from allergy product stores. One of the easiest places to work with is the Allergy Relief Shop in Knoxville, TN. They send you the mold test plate, then you set it out in the baby's room for an hour. Then you wrap it, mail it back and get it analyzed. They will tell you what you have growing in the room, how much is there and what to do about it. It wouldn't hurt to test all the rooms in your house.

Use non-toxic materials in the baby's room. Check the wall covering, flooring, bedding and furniture for ingredients. Just like reading the labels on baby's food. Clean the baby's room with safe non-toxic cleaners. Paint with non-toxic paint.

The steps we have discussed take a little effort, but safe products are as easy to use as unsafe ones. And the cost savings from lowered medical bills mean more money to spend on the baby. In addition how can you beat the joy of a healthy child?

Parents have a tough job keeping the new baby safe. With a little effort we can make the baby's room a safe and happy place for baby to thrive.


Image: Childhood Illness and the Allergy Connection: A Nutritional Approach to Overcoming and Preventing Childhood Illness, by Zoltan P. Rona M.D. (Author). Publisher: Prima Lifestyles (November 20, 1996)

Childhood Illness and the Allergy Connection: A Nutritional Approach to Overcoming and Preventing Childhood Illness
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The following is quoted from Childhood Illness and The Allergy Connection, by Zoltan Roma, MD from Prima Publishing:

What's Wrong with the Traditional Viewpoint?

The traditional view of the role of allergies in childhood illness has remained unchanged for at least the past two decades. Conventional allergists acknowledge the association between environmental illness and chronic childhood illnesses such as asthma. The most common environmental allergies treated by traditional allergists, pediatricians, and family doctors are allergies to dust, dust mites, molds, grasses, weeds (e.g. ragweed), and trees.

But chemicals such as formaldehyde, DDT, BHT, MSG, and thousands of other food preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, and disinfectants are not thought by mainstream medical authorities to be responsible for any chronic disease. Some go so far as to say that the adverse reactions to common environmental chemicals are not true allergies but a symptom of mental illness. To such allergists, medical conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome and twentieth-century disease do not really exist and are the result of psychiatric problem treatable by antidepressants.

The physical and mental symptoms caused by food and chemical allergies can often leave a child in a general state of misery for years. There is a growing number of environmentally sensitive people, including children, who are dismissed and treated as suffering from psychosomatic illness.

The more symptoms patients have, the more likely it is that mainstream doctors will label them as psychiatric cases. The standard dismissal of patients with the phrase It's all in your head has forced many victims of allergy to seek help outside of conventional centres.


This article first appeared in the SAFE LIVING LETTER, vol. 1, #6


Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call
Is This Your Child?
Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis
MORE: children, illness and the environment
MORE: Green Pregnancy, Childbirth, Home and Baby Care


This article compliments of Born to Love.


Other articles that might be of interest:

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• Ten Product Ingredients Your Child Should Avoid and Why
• 20 Questions to Ask Your Doctor and Pharmacist About Your Child's Medications
• Skin Care Ingredients You Should Avoid and Why
• The Facts About Pesticides and Your Baby
• Environmental Illness in Children
• Newborn Bill of Rights
• Household Child-Safety Check-list
• Common Dangerous Plants
• Water Safety for Kids
• The Immunzation Debate - Will you vaccinate your child or not?
• The Vaccination Decision - Important and revealing information


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Last updated - February 8, 2017