January is Baby Safety Month and an important part of keeping your child safe and healthy is preventing exposure to hazardous chemicals. This is more complex than it might appear: the fact that something is for sale in this country doesn't guarantee its safety. One particular cause of concern is the class of chemicals known as phthalates. (When pronouncing this word, the ph is silent. Just start with the th.) Phthalates are compounds added to plastic to make it softer and more flexible.
Phthalate exposure is linked to several negative outcomes in children, including lower IQ scores, especially in boys, and alterations in behavior. Phthalates are banned in toys and children's products like baby shampoo, but the chemical is still widely distributed in the United States and is found in blood samples of people of all ages, including pregnant women and children.
Prevent phthalate exposure *before* your baby is born by using personal care products that don't contain this harmful substance. The personal care products that seem to elevate phthalate levels most in pregnant women are nail polish, hair spray, and deodorant. If you are using these substances while you are pregnant or nursing, there is a good chance that your baby is getting them too, either through the placenta or in breast milk.
One of the biggest sources of phthalates in the American food supply is dairy foods. Unprocessed milk contains very low levels of this substance, but during processing, the milk comes in contact with plastic parts of machinery, plastic gloves of food workers, and containers and becomes contaminated. High-fat dairy products like cream cheese are especially high in this additive. Another source is the plastic gaskets used in many glass jars. It is also found in drinking water. Even worse, many water pipes contain phthalates too.
To reduce your baby's exposure to phthalates,
- Feed him a diet of unprocessed foods.
- Eat organic. Many pesticides and fertilizers contain this compound.
- Avoid high-fat dairy products like cheese and cream cheese.
- Buy a good water filter. Water filters made of pressed carbon blocks do a good job, but you may want a nano-filtration system.
- Choose personal care products that are phthalate-free. Use baking soda as an underarm deodorant. It is effective for all but problem perspiration and it is safe.
- Avoid synthetic fragrances.
- Check out the Greener Penny phthalate-free and paraben-free cosmetics list.
For more information on how to protect your baby from toxins, please see my book entitled Give Your Baby A Head Start. It contains information about the toxins, parasites, and chemicals that can sap your child's intelligence.