Prenatal Exposure to Chemicals Linked to Lower IQ

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Our Monday green news brings you the latest on nutrition, good causes and child education:

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Probiotics-kefetta; photo courtesy of luxomedia via Flickr

  • Prenatal exposure to chemicals linked to lower IQ: According to a new study recently published in Plos One, children of mothers who were exposed to higher levels of phthalates in late pregnancy tested lower on intelligence tests at age seven compared to other children. Phthalates are common chemicals used in many consumer products such as soaps, nail polish, hairspray, shower curtains, raincoats, car interiors, dryer sheets and many more. There are currently no regulations on a pregnant woman’s exposure to these chemicals, and phthalates are usually not labeled on products in the U.S. As the lead author Pam Factor-Litvak, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York explained: “This is the only study looking at this in a longitudinal fashion; the study only observed a relationship and did not test cause and effect. There would need to be more studies to build up causation.” At this time, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not have any evidence that phthalates that are used in cosmetic products pose a safety risk. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission six types of phthalates are currently banned from children’s toys.
  • Probiotics and our health: Probiotics are living microorganisms (most often bacteria, but also other organisms such as yeasts), that can benefit our health. In some cases they are very similar or even the same as the “good” bacteria existing in our body, particularly in our gut. Scientists are not exactly sure how probiotics work, but according to the American Gastroenterological Association, they may help with: 1. boosting our immunity by enhancing the production of antibodies to certain vaccines; 2.producing substances that can prevent infection; 3. preventing harmful bacteria from attaching to our gut lining and growing there; 4. sending signals to our cells to strengthen the mucus in our intestines and help it act as a barrier against infection; 5. inhibiting or destroying toxins released by certain “bad” bacteria that can make us sick; 6. producing B vitamins necessary for metabolizing the food we eat, warding off anemia caused by deficiencies in B6 and B12; and 7. maintaining healthy skin and a healthy nervous system. So stack up on plain yogurt, fermented dairy such as kefir, whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, honey and artichokes. In addition, probiotics are also available as dietary supplements.
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