Monday, May 24, 2010

Pesticides and ADHD: DON'T hold the Fruits and Veggies

A study published last week in Pediatrics showed a significantly increased risk of ADHD in kids who had higher levels of pesticide residues in their urine. The type of pesticides studied are organophosphates--a type of bug killer that kills insects by disrupting the insect's brain and nervous system. What is notable about this study is that it looked at kids with average exposure, while previous studies looked at kids with excess pesticide exposure.

There are 37 organophosphate pesticides used in the United States. Exposure can happen by:

*Eating or drinking something with organophosphate pesticide residue
*Breathing air that has organophosphate
*Skin contact through skin or open wound

What Can You Do to reduce your child's exposure to pesticides?

Don't, I repeat, DON'T stop giving your children fruits and vegetables; the nutrients in them are vital for growth and development, as well as short-term and long-term health.

1. DO Offer Your Child a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables; this will limit the amount of pesticide he consumes from any one food.

2. Wash all fruits and vegetables well before serving. Personally, I like to use a produce wash called Fit.

3. Buy organic produce when possible, especially for produce with the most pesticides:

4. Take a look at home pesticide use:

Are you using a lawn service that uses pesticides?
Do you use a Pest Control service that sprays pesticides inside or outside?
Do you use insect spray to kill roaches and other bugs around the house etc?

If you answered yes to any of these, carefully consider the risk/benefits to the practice of regular pesticide use to your family. You may want to discontinue or decrease your use of pesticides at home or restrict their entry into the home by only using them outside, taking shoes off inside, etc. You can also look for natural and less harmful methods/chemicals.

5. If your children are in school, take a look at your school's pesticide use policy, which must be made available to parents. If organophosphate pesticides are being used; challenge the school to find a safer alternative for children.

6. If you live in an area with mosquitoes (or in a farming community) make sure your children stay inside and you have the windows closed when your community is spraying for them.

Environmental chemicals can be toxic to children and the unborn. Do what you can now to reduce the chemical burden for the children in your life.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Starting Solids? Not So Fast!

One of the most anticipated milestones in the first 6 months of age is that first bite of solid food. I can still picture the faces of my kids with sweet potato or green peas smeared all over them!

Working with parents, I find that starting solids is still something parents and grandparents REALLY look forward to. It's also something to be touted in those conversations of "my baby's doing this--what's your baby doing?"

Well as exciting as that first bite might be, research shows that it's one Kodak moment that may be best put off--at least for a month or two. The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the BMI of 42 year olds and compared it to the age at which they started eating solids. The study showed that the later the introduction of solid foods,(up to 6 months) the lower the risk of overweight at age 42.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months--meaning breastfed infants don't need solids until about that time. That said, there are a small number of infants who are ready for solids before 6 months. In my experience, that usually includes babies who are born large and are developmentally ready for solids before then. On the other hand, when babies go through a growth spurt, it is easy to confuse this short period of increased demand in breastfeeding to a need for solids.

The bottom line: use your baby's developmental cues, not his age, to determine if he is ready for solids. If he has good control of his head and neck, is sitting with support and seems genuinely interested in what you are eating, it may be time to consider solid foods. Remember that rushing this milestone may not be good for your child's waistline in the future!