Bringing Up Baby Organically
There's a movement under way to go green – starting from the first days of life.
Does Organics Equal Common Sense? continued...
Moreover, he says that while we may have less evidence of the good that "going organic" can accomplish, we do have very strong evidence of the kind of harm that is being done through nonorganic living.
"There are advantages to doing something, and then there are also risks and costs to not doing it. And certainly, there are theoretical environmental compounds or toxins that have negative health consequences, either leading to cell damage or cell death or, down the road, cancer, heart disease, and neurological changes," says Rosen.
Among those compounds, he says, are the very chemicals used in the growing or processing much of our food supply - including baby food.
Going back as far as 1995, the Environmental Working Group reported that, in independent laboratory tests, 16 different pesticides, including three carcinogens, were identified in baby foods manufactured by eight different companies. The CDC reports that a main source of pesticide exposure for U.S. children is, in fact, from the food they eat.
Complicating matters further: Experts say that infants and babies are far more susceptible to even the smallest chemical assaults.
"In infants and toddlers, the brain and nervous system is much more susceptible to neurological toxins. There are literally anatomical and physiological reasons why there's more of an effect with a smaller dose, plus we now believe there are both cumulative and synergistic effects, so that small but repetitive doses over time may have a significant impact," says Rosen.
Studies seem to bear this out. In research published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2003, researchers found that in urine samples taken from children aged 2 to 4, pesticide byproducts were six times higher in those who were reported by their parents to eat nonorganic foods compared with those who ate an organic diet.
Seeking Greener Pastures
While organic foods represent one category of "going green," the movement also encompasses limiting exposure to chemicals and toxins that "off gas" -- have a kind of chemical emission that can emanate from products like bedding and linens, mattresses, pressed wood furniture, even room paint and carpeting.