E■ Metro Service
xpecting parents want their babies to be born healthy and stay healthy throughout their lives. The environment into which children are born can go a long way toward determining the health of newborns.
Before the news that a child is on the way arrives, men and women may give little thought to the products they use around their homes. But the moment expecting parents learn their families are about to get bigger is a great time to begin reexamining certain practices around their homes and instituting some changes where necessary.
Reconsider lawn care practices. While past studies examining a link between pesticide exposure and birth defects were less than definitive, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara examined birth certificate records of more than half a million single births in the agricultural region of the San Joaquin Valley between 1997 and 2001. They found that babies born to mothers with high pesticide exposure levels suffered a host of birth defects, including low birth weight. While such defects were only identifiable in cases where women were exposed to extraordinarily high levels of pesticides, parents can still exercise caution and avoid using pesticides when caring for their lawns.
Purchase solid wood furniture. Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are chemicals that enter the air as gases from some solid or liquids. The New York State Department of Health notes that short-term exposure to high levels of certain VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and nausea, among other symptoms. Long-term exposure to VOC has been found to adversely affect the nervous systems of laboratory animals. When purchasing furniture for their children’s nurseries, expecting parents should avoid buying pressed wood products, which may contain the VOC formaldehyde. Instead, look for solid wood furniture made with a low-emitting finish.
Make children’s food as they begin eating solids. Children begin eating solid foods such as fruit and vegetables even before they have teeth. Rather than buying baby food from the store, parents can purchase organic fruits and vegetables that were grown without the use of pesticides. Residue from pesticides may stick to foods such as apples, peaches and pears. Parents who buy and then prepare organic foods are doing all they can to ensure their babies are not exposed to pesticides through their diets.
Expecting parents can take several steps to make their homes as eco-friendly as possible before the births of their children.