People all over America envy us South Floridians as they sit snowed in and shivering while we walk around in short sleeves. One of the drawbacks of living in Florida, though, is that the warm, humid weather encourages parasite growth--a dangerous condition since parasite infection during childhood can impair a child's IQ.
If you are pregnant or have a young child, you may want to take the following steps to prevent neurological damage and a loss of IQ points:
- Purchase a carbon block filter. The high-quality ones remove parasites in the water as well as many other contaminants.
- If you have pets, ask your veterinarian for advice in controlling parasites that often infest animals. Try to avoid sleeping with your animals or letting them lick you on the face.
- Avoid walking barefoot at all times unless it is on a beach that prohibits pets.
- Cook meat and fish thoroughly before eating.
- Always wash produce before eating it--even if the bag says it has been triply washed.
- Be especially careful around cats. Cat feces carries a parasite called toxoplasmosis gondii which can, if contracted prenatally, cause severe retardation. Note, however, that the problem is not with the cat itself but rather with the feces. If you must clean the litter box while you are pregnant, wear disposable plastic gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly, including under the fingernails, afterward.
- The spores that infected cats shed in their feces remain inactive for at least 24 hours. Therefore, if you clean the litter box daily, you can NOT get toxoplasmosis from your cat.
- You are unlikely to acquire toxoplasmosis from petting cats because they groom themselves regularly, thus removing the parasite spores before they become active. Always wash your hands after handling a cat, though, just to be on the safe side.
- Never feed your cat raw meat as raw meat often carries the spores.
- After cutting meat or fish, rinse cutting boards with very hot water.
- Eat well. The study linked above found that well-nourished children were far less likely to be infected by parasites than less well-nourished ones. They also had higher IQs.
- Avoid raw goats milk. It has been known to carry Toxoplasmosis gondii.
If you are pregnant, or planning to become pregnant, and would like more information on how to have a healthier, more intelligent child, please think about buying my book entitled Give Your Baby A Head Start. Available on line as a Kindle Edition, it is based on peer-reviewed scientific research and contains a variety of steps that can help you reduce the risk of prematurity, low birth weight, preeclampsia, and toxins that can affect your baby's intelligence for life.