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Organic Consumers Association

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A Parent's Guide to Avoiding Potentially Toxic Chemicals

Exposure to potentially toxic substances that are part of modern life only adds to the many anxieties of parenting. Here’s what action you can take

From strapping zip ties on to cabinets to popping plastic covers into outlets, new parents do what they can to control their newborn’s environment. But beyond the visible, there are more obscure health concerns from additives and contaminants found in unexpected places.

Exposure to our environment begins even before birth. Studies have shown that some chemicals, like PFAS and flame retardants, in everyday products can pass from mother to fetus through the umbilical cord, and after birth through breast milk. Socioeconomic status and race also affect lifetime exposure. Minority and low-income individuals are disproportionately affected by pollution and toxic chemicals.

A popular phrase in the public health world is that “babies are not just little adults”. Not only are they developing rapidly, but they are also physiologically different than adults: their organs are not fully developed at birth; they have more permeable skin and don’t metabolize chemicals in the same way, which can make them more vulnerable.

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