A report recently broadcast by the University of Michigan Radio Consortium’s Environment Report reminded me yet again of the tightrope parents walk trying to ensure their kids’ health.
It sometimes seems that the very things we do to keep ourselves and our children safe and free from disease end up hurting them.
This report connected the use of “personal care products” while pregnant with an increase in ADHD. Researchers with the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Study concluded “behavioral domains adversely associated with prenatal exposure to phthalates are commonly found to be affected in children clinically diagnosed with conduct or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorders.”
The researchers measured the amount of phthalate metabolites in the urine of 479 mothers in their third trimester in New York City. Those children were then tested for cognitive and behavioral development between the ages four to nine.
Phthalates are chemicals used to soften plastics, as solvents and as anti-foaming agents. In addition to being found in flooring and tubing, they are common in fragrances, shampoo, cosmetics and nail polish.
Some of them — DEHP, DBP and BBP — have been banned from children’s toys but have been replaced by other non-regulated phthalates.
This — in my mind — hardly reaches the level of debate over, say, mercury in vaccines. Certainly most mothers would willingly throw away their mascara if it was hurting their children.
But how many of us can avoid shampoo, deodorant or any number of other things we use without giving it a thought? I know I diligently avoided all over the counter drugs, alcohol, seafood/ fish and smoke-filled rooms when expecting. But I also went about my normal life.
So should any of my three end up with an ADHD diagnosis, do I blame my conditioner or my shaving cream?