Dec 29, 2013

Chemicals and kids can be a deadly combination

Surprisingly, children's environmental health is still a new field. Many medical conditions result from what youngsters breathe in, eat, drink and touch. A recent international conference in Jerusalem discussed the issues. 
Chemicals and kids can be a deadly combination Photo: MCT More than 80,000 new chemicals have been developed and released into the environment in the past four decades. And during the same period, the rates of birth defects, autism, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, asthma and other disorders that affect children have increased. Is this a coincidence, or have all these chemicals increased the prevalence of such disorders among infants, children and teens? Not all the evidence is in, but the field of children's environmental health has grown, as researchers have been studying the influence of chemicals and pollutants on youngsters. They are reaching the conclusion that there is a "window of susceptibility" during which exposure to such substances can trigger changes in cells that lead to disease and disability in youngsters.

The Seventh International Conference on Children's Health and the Environment, called "A Healthier World for Our Children" was held recently at Jerusalem's Dan Panorama Hotel, where an interdisciplinary group of scientists compared notes. It was initiated and hosted by Prof.

Yona Amitai, a toxicologist and pediatrician who served for eight years as head of the Health Ministry's Department of Mother, Child and Adolescent Health (and is now at Bar-Ilan University's department of management), and by Prof. Peter van den Hazel, board chairman of the International Network on Children's Health, Environment and Safety (INCHES).

This is a global network of people and organizations interested in promoting the protection of children from environmental and safety hazards, and it distributes data and initiates research on the relationship between environmental factors and child health.