Archive for 2010

New Study Finds Link Between SIDS and Alcohol Consumption

Thursday, December 30th, 2010


One more way to keep your baby safe.

Every parent is concerned about SIDS. Although there are many theories about it, and some feel they’ve narrowed down possible causes, it is still the # 1 cause of death in children between the ages of one month and one year. New research has now linked SIDS to parents or caregivers drinking alcohol. It may not be the sole cause of SIDS, but it might enable you to make changes that could keep your baby safe.


The study, conducted by University of California sociologist, David Phillips, reviewed 129,090 SIDS cases that occurred between 1973 to 2006.

The findings showed that SIDS deaths increased at times also known for increased alcohol consumption. For example, SIDS deaths spiked by 33% on New Year’s Day. Researchers also discovered that SIDS deaths were higher on weekends and on the fourth of July.

This lines up with other statistics on SIDS: Babies of mothers who drink are more than twice as likely to die of SIDS.

One doctor commenting on the study said, “”Although the study alerts us to considering the increase in SIDS at this time of the year (meaning New Year’s), it concerns me because it does not have evidence to suggest a cause or action to prevent this increase.”

Actually, the ‘action to prevent this increase’ is pretty clear. Don’t drink alcohol AND take care of babies. Pretty simple.

Many other factors are suspected of contributing to SIDS:

Babies suffocating in extra quilts, blankets, pillows, very soft mattresses, or by sleeping on their stomach. Recommendations are to put the baby to sleep in his or her back with no extra or heavy blankets, toys, etc., and ensure they can’t roll over.;

Babies overheating if they’re over-dressed or in a room where the temperature is too high. We have a tendency to bundle babies a little too much and have their bedrooms very warm. Most doctors recommend that if you are too hot or too cold in a room, your baby probably is, too. Don’t use extra blankets or clothing; if the temperature’s good for you (unless you are particularly sensitive), then it’s probably fine for baby;

Some experts think breathing fumes coming from the chemicals in baby crib mattresses. Naturepedic crib mattresses have been independently tested to ensure the air around them is safe for baby.;

And others are still being researched.

If parents took care of all of the known or suspected risk factors, would SIDS be over? No one really knows. But we do know that we can lower our baby’s chances of SIDS by addressing the things in the above list. And now, thanks to this new study, we know that drinking alcohol and caring for babies do not mix. Abstinence may be the best policy for parents and caregivers of young children.

Still Considering A Polyurethane Foam Crib Mattress? Here’s Dr. Greene’s Advice.

Thursday, December 16th, 2010


baby sleeping on chemicals?Unless we bury our head in research papers, it’s sometimes difficult to find the information we need on which chemicals are safe for our babies and which aren’t. So, we take the advice of experts. One such expert is Dr. Greene, a pediatrician who has had an online presence since 1995. His mission: “To improve children’s health by informing and inspiring those who care for them. By providing information, wisdom, and perspective, we strive to prepare parents to become knowledgeable partners who can work with their children’s physicians in a new and rich way.”

On June 1, 2010, Dr. Greene appeared on the ABC News Now Program, Parenting with Ann Pleshette Murphy. Here is Dr. Greene’s explanation of why polyurethane foam is not the best choice for a crib mattress or, for that matter, anyone’s mattress.

“Kids spend 93% of their childhood indoors these days, and indoor air is 2 to 5 times worse than outdoor air on average in terms of toxins. If I were to pick one green purchase to make, one big organic purchase to make, I would pick a mattress for your baby – because the conventional mattresses are often made with polyurethane foam, which is like frozen petroleum, solid petroleum. And you can smell the gasoline fumes right above it. Because of that they have to put all the chemical flame retardants on it otherwise it would be explosive. And there’s a little gas cloud of that on top. Then the whole thing is wrapped in vinyl with PVC and phthalates in there. So for about six inches or so above the mattresses there’s this cloud of chemicals. And babies are small. They’re right there 12 hours out of the day often. Naturepedic makes organic and all natural mattresses without all the chemicals that are there. It’s smart for all of us. None of these are things people should panic about but it’s just making smart choices. It tilts the odds in favor of health.”

That’s pretty clear.

In this TV interview, Dr. Greene also gives helpful information on other children’s products that contain toxic chemicals and which brands you can use to replace them.

Check it out!

Does Non-Organic Cotton Contain Pesticide Residues?

Monday, December 13th, 2010


pesticide residueMany parents have questions about cotton. Is regular cotton okay, or should you use organic? The major difference is pesticides – organic cotton is grown without pesticides; regular cotton is grown with them. Are residues from those pesticides still in the cotton clothing, sheets and blankets you’re using for your baby?

This is an important question if you’re concerned about your child’s health. Pesticides have been linked to several diseases and conditions, including asthma, autism, learning disabilities, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and several types of cancer. In fact, the President’s Cancer Panel recommends that we eat organic food in order to avoid pesticide poisoning. Here’s a quote from the latest President’s Cancer Panel Report.

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

But food is not our only exposure to pesticides. As with other chemicals, residue can also become airborne. And when they do, they are in the air our babies breathe.

More pesticides are used on cotton crops than any other crop in the world – a full 25% of all pesticides used are used on cotton crops.

The good news is that by the time those cotton crops become fabric, the pesticides are gone. However, according to Debra Lynn Dadd, Queen of Green and author of Home Safe Home, there are other problems with cotton, including the cotton batting sometimes used in crib mattresses:

“Cotton batting does contain pesticide residues, if it is not organic, as it is not as processed as cotton fabric. So it is imperative to buy organic cotton batting, as in a mattress or pillow.”

Finishes and dyes on some cotton fabrics can also be a problem:

“The problem with cotton fabric is the finishes, such as a permanent press finish, which releases formaldehyde. Most fabrics of any kind have a “sizing” applied, which washes out in the first wash. Five washes is plenty to remove sizing, but no amount of washing removes permanent press. Dyes are also not a concern if they are “colorfast,” that is, they don’t bleed when you wash them.”

According to Ms. Dadd, there are also environmental reasons to use organic cotton:

“The reason to buy organic cotton is that conventionally-grown cotton uses a huge amount of the most toxic chemicals, which get into our air and water and soil, and indirectly into our bodies.”

At Naturepedic, we use only organic cotton in our crib mattresses. So you know your baby is safe from pesticide residues and the residues of other chemicals that may be used on the crops or in processing.

As for your baby’s jammies, sheets, blankets and other goodies, regular cotton is probably fine. But do find out about the dyes used and treatments or finishes such as permanent press. If it looks like the chemicals used there might not be safe, go with organic.

Is Indoor Air Quality at School Affecting Your Child’s Health or Performance?

Friday, November 19th, 2010


indoor air quality in schools endangers healthIf you’ve diligent about indoor air quality at home and are concerned about the air quality at your child’s school, the American Lung Association has teamed up with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to give you the tools you need to help clean it up.

Why is indoor air quality an issue? According to the EPA:

“Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critical component of providing a healthy and comfortable learning environment. Indoor air pollutants may cause or contribute to short- and long-term health problems including asthma, respiratory tract infection and disease, allergic reactions, headaches, nasal congestion, eye and skin irritations, coughing, sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea. In addition, indoor air pollutants and extremes in temperature and humidity may cause discomfort, which can affect students’ ability to concentrate and learn.”

Obviously, indoor air quality can have a serious effect on your child’s health, as well as their school performance.

In fact, it makes you wonder how many learning disability diagnoses might actually be attributed to toxins in the air at school. The same would also apply, of course, to the home.

If you suspect the air quality of the school because of problems with your child, or even if you’re just trying to protect your child’s health, find out from the school principal if they are involved in an indoor air quality program and precisely what measures they’re taking to ensure the air is safe. If they are not currently active in such a program, guide them to the American Lung Association website to read about the indoor air quality programs, plans, checklists and other materials they provide to help schools.

And, of course, follow up on it. They might even appreciate your help!

The Ubiquitous Bisphenol A – Should I Be Worried About It?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010


Bisphenol A (BPA) is currently the subject of many articles, blogs, news reports and scientific studies. Several countries have already banned BPA in some children’s products, as have some states in the U.S. Is BPA exposure really something you should be worried about? In fact, it is. Exposure to BPA is almost inevitable.

Plastic infant bottles
Canned foods, including infant formula – the BPA is in the epoxy resin lining of the cans
Water bottles – usually those marked with a “7” on the bottom
Plastic food storage containers and packaging

That’s not to say that BPA is found only in food-related items – it’s also in CDs, hard plastic toys, cell phones, computers, and a host of other products. But, currently, experts believe that the primary entrance point of BPA into the body is through food, water (BPA-laden epoxy resins even line some water supply pipes), and food or drink containers and packaging.

The BPA leaches into the food we eat and water or other liquids we drink. It’s even found in breast milk – one more thing that’s transferred from mom’s body to baby’s.

Air and dust are other possible sources of exposure.

So, why do you want to avoid BPA? Hundreds of studies have linked even low levels of exposure to:

Obesity
Low sperm count
Damage to developing eggs
Miscarriage
Placental cell death
Infertility
Heart disease
Diabetes
Changes in brain development
Presdisposition to breast and prostate cancer

A recent study, published in May, 2010, examined the contents of BPA in canned foods. Not the levels in the cans themselves, but in the food contained in the cans.

The results are startling. 92% of the canned food contained BPA – which explains why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found BPA in the urine of 93% or Americans. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) also found BPA in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies.

Should you be worried about BPA? If you’re still doubtful, read the study, No Silver Lining: An Investigation into Bisphenol A in Canned Foods.

Why Are Phthalates Still a Big Deal – Wasn’t the Consumer Product Safety Act Ban Enough to Protect Our Kids?

Friday, November 5th, 2010


“Imagine a child sitting in his classroom, gazing through the window at the rain. He picks up his pencil and chews distractedly on the eraser at its top. Chemicals, classed in Europe as “toxic to reproduction,” dissolve in his saliva and enter his body.”

The above quote is from an article about a new study on phthalates, the chemicals in the eraser and thousands of other products we use everyday. Phthalates are dangerous chemicals, and they’re toxic to reproduction no matter what your country or continent.

They were banned by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission nearly two years ago (and in Europe 1999) in certain children articles and toys.

So, if they were banned, why are we still writing about them in both Europe and North America? Why are they still the subject of testing? Why did 140 environmental groups band together to release a new study about these chemicals?

Only a few phthalates were banned; there are plenty more that are not regulated.

They are so widespread – not only are they in every country that has plastics, they are so commonly used and accepted as the chemicals that turn hard PVC into something flexible that a consumer has to go out of their way to find one of the few, insightful manufacturers who refuses to include them.

The problem doesn’t occur only when children’s put things in their mouths or inhale fumes. We know now that even unborn children are exposed to these chemicals through their moms. If they’re in mom – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who’s body is free of phthalates – they are in baby.

They are, factually, endangering the entire human race by interfering with our reproductive systems as well as being linked to a number of medical conditions so prevalent in society that some may even consider epidemic.

Although the number of items containing phthalates is too long to list, there’s a good chance they are in any soft plastics in your home environment. But you can get rid of them. Many manufacturers are so aware of the problem, and the concern on the part of consumers, that their labels proudly proclaim ‘No Phthalates’. In that case, reading the label makes it easy. You can also get information on the contents of their products on their website, as it is with ours (our Naturepedic crib mattresses don’t contain phthalates or any other harmful chemicals(, or give them a call.

So, start with your plastics, like the items tested in the recent study – running shoes, plastic garden clogs, elastic bands, toothbrushes, pencil cases, and so on.

Also, in case you are not aware of this, phthalates are commonly found in scented products – everything from perfumes to cosmetics, skin care products, deodorant and laundry detergent. If it’s not scented with essential oils, it probably contains phthalates.

We want you and your children to be safe.

Going Green without Becoming an Expert

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010


When you first take on the subject of toxic chemicals, as a layman, it can be extremely confusing. There is so much information and so many dangerous chemicals in our immediate environment, it makes you just want to stay in the closet all day. And that’s assuming your closet wasn’t recently redecorated with off-gassing paint, isn’t filled with the formaldehyde used in no-iron, wash and wear clothes, and so on. Really, it can be overwhelming.

In fact, it’s not. Believe it or not, it’s quite simple. In fact, a better approach – rather than learning EVERYTHING that isn’t good for you, is probably to learn everything that IS.

Here are things to look for on labels – some are things you want to look for, and some are things you want to avoid.

1. Wood
2. Cotton
3. Linen
4. Hemp
5. Silk
6. Organic anything (assuming the label fully discloses all information and isn’t just referring to a small percentage of the ingredients/product and so on)
7. No antibiotics
8. No hormones
9. Preservative-free
10. Phthalates-free
11. Propylene glycol-free
12. Aluminum-free
13. Sodium laurel/laureth sulfate (SLS) free
14. Fragrance free or unscented (although you might want to check into this product by product, label by label, because the definitions are not clear)
15. No artificial fragrance
16. No artificial color (or dye)
17. BPA-free

That’s not a very big list but, believe it or not, if you used it as a guideline, you’d probably eliminate 75% of the potential harmful chemicals in your life!

Want to get a head start without earning a PhD? Implement the list above and see how much progress you can make!

Are Bedroom Chemicals Causing Your Child’s Asthma, Allergies or Eczema?

Friday, October 29th, 2010


toxic chemicals and allergies, asthma and eczemaHaving a Naturepedic crib mattress will help handle many of the potentially toxic chemicals in your child’s bedroom. But the chemicals in crib mattresses are not the only ones you have to watch out for. In fact, some of the other common chemicals have now been linked to asthma, allergies and eczema in children. Check out this new study.

This recent study, conducted in Sweden focused on analyzing the air in children’s bedrooms. The researchers were looking for volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – gases that are emitted from liquids or solids and which can damage the environment and human health. They tested the air for 8 different VOCs in the bedrooms of 400 children. Nearly half of the children suffered from allergies or asthma, and the other half were healthy.

What they found was a link between the presence of PGEs – propylene glycol and glycol ethers – and asthma, allergies and eczema. In fact, children with PGEs in their bedroom air were between 50 and 180 times more at risk of developing asthma, rhinitis (cold symptoms) and eczema than children whose bedroom air was free of these chemicals.

The study also linked bedroom air containing PGEs to a higher incidence of kids developing antibodies to cats, dogs and pollen. In other words, they are sensitive to pollen and cat or dog dander (usually), and may develop allergic symptoms in the future or already have them.

PGEs can be found in water-based paints and cleansers as well as some plastic toys and packaging. Propylene glycol is also a common ingredient in personal care products – everything from shampoos, soaps, creams, ointments, deodorants and toothpaste to laundry detergents, floor wax and processed foods. So, there is plenty of opportunity for it to get into household air.

Propylene glycol penetrates the skin very quickly and, in addition to the allergy symptoms, can cause damage to the brain, liver and kidneys. In fact, the Environment Protection Agency recommends that people working with propylene glycol avoid skin contact.

Amazing, isn’t it, that propylene glycol is so common despite these warnings?

The researchers involved in the study concluded that more testing had to be done. That’s pretty standard – one test after another. But they did also commit to the idea that PGE exposure causes or exacerbates multiple allergic symptoms.

How do you get rid of PGEs? Well, start by removing products containing them from your home. And don’t buy anymore.

How do you know which products contain propylene glycol and glycol ethers and which don’t? Some products list them on the label and many, probably most, don’t. In food, propylene glycol is listed as E 1520. For some types of products, like industrial applications and cosmetics, there is no legal requirement to list these ingredients at all. However, there is a household products database that can give you the information – just type the name of the product into the search box to see the contents. For personal care products and cosmetics, check Skin Deep. They also have a good search engine that lists tons of products.

To find alternatives, check the Internet for things like non-toxic cleansers, cosmetics, and so on. Also, Debra’s list has non-toxic alternatives for just about everything. For PGE-free food, simple buy organic and fresh, but continue to read labels of packaged products and investigate further if needed.

It seems there’s no end to harmful household toxins. But, in fact, there is. Once you get the hang of it and know what to look for, you’ll find that finding and using products that are not harmful is easy. And as a result, you and your children will be healthier!

New Study Reveals Toxic Chemicals in Flooring and Wallpaper. Are They in Your Child’s Nursery?

Monday, October 25th, 2010


Whether you’re a DIY’er or having your child’s nursery (or any other part of your home) renovated or decorated professionally, you might want to take a look at the recent study done by HealthyStuff.org and the Ecology Center on the toxic chemicals found in flooring and wallpaper.

HealthyStuff.org tested a whopping 3,300 home improvement products – 1,106 samples of flooring, and 2,312 samples of wallpaper.

None of the products tested are currently subject to any regulation regarding toxic chemical contents. In fact, the database of the results is the largest publicly available database of toxic chemicals in home improvement products.

The results were pretty amazing. Here are the overall findings from the horse’s mouth:

“Heavy metals and other additives are commonly found in residential flooring and wallpaper. These chemicals include lead, cadmium, flame retardants, tin compounds and phthalates — harmful chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

“Home improvement products are largely unregulated for chemical hazards and contain hazardous chemicals additives, called phthalates, at levels prohibited in children’s products by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). CPSC prohibits the presence of 6 phthalates in children’s products at levels greater then 1,000 ppm.

“PVC building materials were 7-times more likely to contain hazardous additives, compared to non-vinyl alternatives tested in this study. All PVC materials tested – 1,350 of 3,019 contained hazardous additives; Non-PVC materials – 18 of 273.

“Over 1/2 (53% – 1,234 of 2,312) and 15% (119 of 793) of flooring had one or more hazardous chemical additives.

“Levels of hazardous chemical additives in flooring and wallpaper are commonly found in household air and dust at levels 5-100 times higher then outdoor concentrations.”

You’ll probably recognize ‘phthalates’ – they were recently banned in crib mattresses and other children’s products. Three types of phthalates were banned in some types of children’s products, and six in others (anything a child under 12 might put in their mouth.) The ban covers a wide range of products – everything from the vinyl waterproof covering on many crib mattresses (not in Naturepedic crib mattresses, of course) to the rubber ducky your little one plays with in the bath. According to the study, nearly half of the PVC/vinyl products tested contained hazardous additives – which would include phthalates – so it’s not just the products that were banned we have to worry about.

Looking at renos? Watch out for hazardous chemicals. Your best bet is to look for companies that don’t use them in their products. Also, check out the full HealthyStuff.org study. You can search the product results by brand, type and levels of detection.

New Pesticide Marketing Campaign May Be Confusing. What Should You Believe?

Thursday, October 7th, 2010


In the not too distant future you may see advertisements, information hand-outs, signs in the produce areas of grocery stores, you might even hear radio advertising, all promoting the idea that the pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables really aren’t harmful. If you’re concerned about pesticides – which would make you part of a whopping 90% majority of the U.S. population – you might wonder if other information you’ve received on the dangers of pesticides is actually true. Well, here’s the story behind the ads.

Recently, the Federal government approved $180,000 for the Alliance for Food and Farming to “help with a public education campaign to correct misconceptions that some produce items contain excessive amounts of pesticide residues.” The ‘produce items’ being referenced are those on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List – the top 12 on a list showing the pesticide residue on about 50 fruits and vegetables.

EWG suggests we buy organically-grown Dirty Dozens so we can avoid the pesticides. The Alliance group, on the other hand, says there is no evidence of a health risk.

The EWG information is based on analysis of 89,000 tests conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The tests were on fruits and vegetables that had already been washed and/or peeled – basically, in the same conditions under which they would normally be eaten.

So, there is no doubt that the pesticide residues are there.

Why does the Alliance say there is no health risk? One of the Alliance associates said the EPA rules protect us. “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a rigorous, health-protective process for evaluating the potential risks of pesticides on food. This process includes considerations for fetuses, infants and children as well as adults.”

But, the EPA doesn’t have the same faith in their ability to protect us – as is clear from a speech given by EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, in her address to the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco:

“A child born in America today will grow up exposed to more chemicals than a child from any other generation in our history. A 2005 study found 287 different chemicals in the cord blood of 10 newborn babies – chemicals from pesticides, fast food packaging, coal and gasoline emissions, and trash incineration. They were found in children in their most vulnerable stage. Our kids are getting steady infusions of industrial chemicals before we even give them solid food. Now, some chemicals may be risk-free at the levels we are seeing. I repeat: some chemical may be risk-free. But as more and more chemicals are found in our bodies and the environment, the public is understandably anxious and confused. Many are turning to government for assurance that chemicals have been assessed using the best available science, and that unacceptable risks haven’t been ignored.

”Right now, we are failing to get this job done. Our oversight of the 21st century chemical industry is based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. It was an important step forward at the time – part of a number of environmental wins from the 1970s, like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, not to mention the formation of the EPA. But over the years, not only has TSCA fallen behind the industry it’s supposed to regulate – it’s been proven an inadequate tool for providing the protection against chemical risks that the public rightfully expects.”

Add to that the revelations and recommendations made in the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel Report, entitled Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now:

“Many known or suspected carcinogens first identified through studies of industrial and agricultural occupational exposures have since found their way into soil, air, water and numerous consumer products…Some of these chemicals have been found in maternal blood, placental tissue, and breast milk samples from pregnant women and mothers who recently gave birth. Thus, chemical contaminants are being passed on to the next generation, both prenatally and during breastfeeding.”

“Exposure to pesticides can be decreased by choosing, to the extent possible, food grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers…Similarly, exposure to antibiotics, growth hormones, and toxic run-off from livestock feed lots can be minimized by eating free-range meat raised without these medications.”

It’s pretty clear from the EPA and President’s Cancer Panel statements that the pesticide concerns of 90% of the U.S. population are well-founded.

I hope this information helps you in the decision making process if the marketing campaign that $180,000 is supposed to pay for ever does become a reality.