Environmental Toxins and our Kids’ Mental Health
Children are small and low to the ground, leaving them more exposed to environmental toxins.
Ask The Expert
ASHLEY MARIANI M.S.W, R.S.W., owner of Mind Online is a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist. Ashley works with new parents to navigate through a variety of concerns with confidence.
Today chemical toxins are used to control unwanted bugs, weeds, mold, and mildew. They are put in some fabrics to make them less flammable. They’re in many of the household and personal products we use daily.
Children are more vulnerable than adults to environmental risks because they breathe more air, consume more food, and drink more water than adults do, in proportion to their weight. Children's central nervous, immune, reproductive, and digestive systems are still developing.
Small children tend to put things in their mouths and their brains and bodies are still developing and the chemical impact for them may be even greater than adults.
Baby and toys in mouth
We want to be pro-active when it comes to children and pregnant women and be conscious to their safety and what is in and around our homes.
Do Environmental toxins Interfere with Children's Development?
The rapid development with children makes them particularly susceptible to toxins. In the first two years of life, the brain undergoes rapid changes in the numbers and types of brain cells, and in the neurochemical connections between them. The filter (blood-brain barrier) that prevents harmful substances from passing from the blood stream into the brain tissue is less effective in younger children.
Exposing the developing central nervous system to toxins during this period of rapid growth could lead to permanent damage of brain structures and of nerve function. There are studies linking ADHD to environment toxins.
What Can Parents Do?
• Pay special attention to the areas outside where your child plays. Summer and the increase use of household and yard chemicals make it more likely children will be in contact with toxins. Some pesticides mimic hormones in the body and may disrupt the normal endocrine development by disrupting the normal balance of hormones.
• Incorporate good hygiene practices as dirty hands, left unwashed and hand-to-mouth behaviors can increase the likelihood a child will ingest environmental toxins.
• GO GREEN with personal and household products Read labels. If you can’t pronounce it you don’t want it.
• Reduce use of canned foods and eat mostly fresh or frozen foods. Purchase mostly organic fruits and vegetables, particularly the ones consistently found to have the highest pesticide. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 for more info.
• When possible opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel cups, containers, water bottles and travel mugs.
• Use baby bottles that are BPA free (or better yet use glass bottles) and look for toys labeled BPA free.
If you are concerned that your child may have been exposed or showing signs of mental distress due to environment toxins contact your health care provider.
Ashley Mariani of MindOnline is a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist. She offers Emotional Support for New Parents, Stress Management, Relationship Enrichment. and how to navigate through the love and dating world.
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