A Primer on Kids’ HealthHelke Ferrie December 1, 2002
Building Healthy Kids: First Detox Their Environment — Then Detox Their Diet
The disciples came unto Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus called a little child unto him and set him in the midst of them, and said “…who so offends one of these little ones…. it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
Imagine if baby Jesus had arrived — not in a stable among oxen, sheep, and camels — but in a modern Canadian subdivision. Imagine again Jesus being raised on soya formula and baby food from plastic jars instead of mother’s milk — and then being bundled off to the doctor for his vaccination shots. Finally, imagine Jesus growing up in a modern chemically-saturated home and school, also spending much of his waking time in front of a TV, nourished by french fries, hamburgers, pizza and milk shakes. What would the chances have been of Jesus having grown up to be Jesus?
Current research into the health hazards children routinely face indicates that the chances are slim for any child today to grow up healthy and with a fully functioning brain.
At the bottom of the annual celebratory chaos of Christmas is that great hope that life will renew itself again and again. The birth of that Divine Child stands for all children and for the future itself. It has been said that the birth of every child provides proof that God has not yet given up on us. Thirty years ago, when I began raising my 13 adopted and three biological children, I would never have believed that the rage of Jesus’ words quoted above and the spirit of Christmas would within a quarter of a century come to be mutually necessary. Today, nothing less will do than Jesus’ powerful image invoking a roaring “Stop this destruction of the innocent!” The scientific and epidemiological evidence is way past posturing and academic debate.
Indeed, the World Wildlife Fund’s recent report on the future of plants, animals and humans over the coming century indicates that runaway extinction-in-the-making is not just in declining elephants, birds and plants, but in our children. But we are only doomed if we don’t act. That action starts at home with your children, grandchildren, and in our communities. In the end, politicians follow where we lead them — not the other way around.
So, do we love money more than children? In the September 9th issue of The New Yorker is a cartoon by Mankoff showing a CEO addressing shareholders saying: “And so, while the end-of-the-world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors, we believe that the pre-end period will be filled with unprecedented opportunities for profit.” This awful joke is echoed by Cambridge University’s Martin Jenkins, senior advisor to the World Conservation Monitoring Center, who said, referring to humans, “Things are getting worse faster than possibly ever before. Never has one single species had such an overwhelming influence. We are entering uncharted territory.”
Since 1970, fully one-third of the natural world has been destroyed by humans, and freshwater ecosystems have shrunk by 55%. Our Great Lakes may be deserts like the Aral Sea within 200 years. We must change our ways, or find at least two more habitable planets within 50 years, the report concludes. There being no such planets anywhere within a reasonable number of light years away, we have no choice. The good news is that this is within the realm of the possible.
AIR POLLUTION & ASTHMA
The depletion of life-supporting resources is half the problem. The other half concerns pollution. While our politicians spout nonsense about the Kyoto treaty’s dangers to business, childcare workers from across Canada recently reported to provincial premiers that air pollution has increased so dramatically, that “… twenty-two years ago we did not administer puffers to children under the age of four. Now it is not uncommon for us to do so for children aged three months.” (Shellie Bird of CUPE, Toronto.)
The Ontario Medical Association reported that air pollution costs Ontario more than $1 billion annually in medical care. Mr. Romanow’s idea that we just need more money is absurd. There isn’t enough money to pay for the escalating asthma epidemic in children alone, leave alone for all the other environmentally caused and nutritionally mediated diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and all the autoimmune diseases which can no longer be attributed to genetics — except by scientists fantasizing on behalf of Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and Big Agriculture.
U.S. medical researcher Philip Landrigan, who in the 1990’s managed to make child health issues of central political importance, has now published an astounding article in Environmental Health Perspectives (July 2002), published by the prestigious National Institutes of Health. Landrigan’s team studied a full range of available government data from which his research team estimated the health-care costs to society of children poisoned by lead (paints, gasoline fumes), asthma (all air pollution combined), cancer (primarily pesticides), and developmental disabilities (fetal exposure to environmental toxicants and the standard grossly nutrient-deficient North American diet). They left out calculations on other diseases children get from polluted environments and bad nutrition, nor did they consider long-term effects (for example: mercury amalgam in a 10-year-old translates into auto-immune disease or Alzheimer’s in mid-life; a diet based on transfatty acids and refined sugars translates into a stroke, heart disease and diabetes even before mid-life). The cost, if present trends continue, is US $54.9 to 64.9 billion annually. Since this figure reflects current costs, the mind boggles at the costs yet to come. The article ends with an understatement which rings out like a judgement on the Industrial Era: “Most important, increased investment is needed to prevent pollution.”
ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS TO KIDS’ HEALTH
Is prevention possible? Can parents protect their children? You bet you they can — and help change the world while they are at it. Humankind is, in the final analysis, a collection of individuals capable of making intelligent decisions at the personal level, thereby affecting the whole human family in a steady and inexorable ripple effect. You don’t have to wait until Health Canada issues guidelines: those, like most standard medical tests, tend to state the obvious when it is usually already too late.
To protect your child requires understanding clearly what it is that endangers your son or daughter, such as air, diet, vaccines, television, dentistry, the home and school environments.
• AIR QUALITY
The air is not only dependent on signing the Kyoto treaty. The books cited in the resource section at the end of this article give you practical information on how you can fix your child’s world. I have a free-standing air purifier in my home which greatly relieves my 11-year old granddaughter’s sensitivity to perfumes and animal dander. Excellent systems exist also for forced-air heating, and since 1988 all such measures are fully tax-deductible if prescribed by a physician. Schools expose children to toxicants, but returning to clean air at home allows the immune systems to recover every day from assaults beyond your control.
• EMF EXPOSURE
The information on the deleterious effect of long-term exposure of children to television is overwhelming (see websites provided at end). The World Health Organization has published several volumes on this issue. The exposure to the electromagnetic fields generated by television and certain types of computers inhibits the growth of the brain. Further, the content of the TV shows is well known to affect behavior through its continuous exposure to violence.
• PESTICIDE EXPOSURE
Last year in March, CBC aired David Suzuki’s “Effects of Pesticides on Human Development.” The program featured research by Elizabeth Guillette in South America, showing the developmental differences between children raised in a pesticide-free environment and those exposed to agricultural pesticides from fetus to school age. The pesticide-exposed group was unable to develop properly, resulting in an entire generation of mildly retarded children. At the May 2000 Eco Summit in Ottawa, researchers reported to the Canadian federal government that the increase in such borderline retarded children, if present trends continue, would be financially unsustainable. Why? Because there wouldn’t be enough people born of normal intelligence.
If the child has escaped injury from pesticides during its fetal stage, thousands of chemicals assault the developing brain and nervous system through new carpets, paints, dry-cleaned clothes and disinfectants during the toddler stage. David Suzuki’s “Up Close and Toxic” aired by CBC in October this year described how on average a toddler puts something into his mouth 76 times per hour. Most of these items outgas neurotoxic plastics or chemicals designed to protect us from pests, bacteria, parasites, etc. Yet pesticides in cleaning materials, home, and garden merely further the adaptive powers of the roaches and bugs, because their genetic adaptability far exceed ours, being short-lived creatures.
THE CRITICAL ROLE OF NUTRITION
The processed food our kids eat is not fit for life. It isn’t even wholly adequate when it is organic. In a startling move, the American Medical Association published in their journal (June 19, 2002) that everybody needs nutritional supplements (especially vitamins C, E, folic acid, and magnesium) because no diet, not even organically grown food, meets basic nutritional requirements. Your regular supermarket potato, once a main source of potassium, now has zero potassium if conventionally grown. Dead food is no longer a metaphor.
In Appleton, Wisconsin an experiment was initiated in 1997. The Central Alternative High School there was notorious for discipline problems and low academic achievement. Principal LuAnn Coenen brought in a group called “Natural Ovens” which began a whole-fresh-food lunch program without fries, shakes, burgers and the rest of the transfatty junk. They threw out the pop and candy vending machines, and brought in purified water. Within less than a year there was no more truancy, academic achievement increased in all grades, and expulsions, vandalism, drug abuse, suicides, weapons in school and drop-outs went to zero! Most interestingly: no more ADHD! The whole spectrum of learning disabilities — of which ADHD is one — is well known to be mediated through essential fatty acid deficiency (characteristic of all the stuff that Wisconsin school threw out). The same experiment was conducted by Oxford University in UK prisons and reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry (June 2002). The changed diet brought violence down by a whopping 40%!
The Australian Medical Association has begun a campaign to teach parents to restrict junk food intake because the general allergic response to processed foods, called obesity, is a trigger for juvenile diabetes and asthma, all epidemic now (obesity in North American adults is at 61%, in children 13%). In the US, the same law firms that brought Big Tobacco to its knees are now working to prepare class action suits against the food industry for knowingly depleting essential nutrients in foods in the interest of increasing shelf life. (British Medical Journal June 15, 2002).
THE DANGERS OF VACCINATION
The worst assault a child can suffer is vaccine injury. Most people don’t know that you have the right to refuse vaccination, nor that about a third of all children don’t get vaccinated ever because the parents consciously decided against the risk. Most doctors don’t read the safety data sheets which the vaccine’s manufacturer must provide. These inform of the unacceptable risks involved. Overwhelming evidence supports the observation that most autism is caused by vaccines (up in the UK by 1,500% since the MMR vaccine was introduced; up by 300% in California over the past decade where vaccination is pushed the most vigorously). Diabetes and cerebral palsy are the other frequently resulting conditions. Sixty-eight lawsuits are currently in progress against Eli Lilly by thousands of parents — for providing vaccines the company knew, since the 1940s, to be neurotoxic. Lilly, also the world’s top manufacturer of biological warfare materials, managed to get a clause tagged onto the recent Homeland Security Bill in the US, protecting Lilly from liability for vaccine injury.
Johns Hopkins Medical School vaccine expert Neal Halsey reported that the problem is a lack of arithmetic: when single-disease vaccines became combined into triple-disease immunization, the amount of mercury added as a preservative has also tripled since the 1930’s. (New York Times, Nov. 9, 2002) Most astonishing is the research showing that throughout the world all of the diseases we get vaccinated against had actually already declined or totally disappeared, often decades before vaccines were developed for them! Disease-causing organisms are dependent upon poor nutrition and poor sanitation. Dr. Zoltan Rona’s book on vaccination is a must-read for all Canadian parents. Jennet Grover of the Etoma Research Center (email@example.com) writes: “If you were intending to purchase a dietary supplement, and the label offered this warning: ‘May contain traces of formaldehyde, thimerosal, phenol, ethylene glycol [carcinogens and neurotoxins all] and animal cells.’ Would you buy it?”
The spirit of Christmas speaks to us of protecting the vulnerable future. There’s no better way to celebrate Christmas than to resolve to do so at home with our own children.
• Alison, K. & Raymon d, K., HOW TO STAY HEALTHY AND STILL EAT CHOCOLATE, Artemis House, 2002
• Berksen, D.L., HORMONE DECEPTION: How Everyday Foods and Products Are Disrupting Your Hormones and How to Protect Yourself and Your Family, Contemporary Books, 2000
• Breggin, P., MD, TALKING BACK TO RITALIN, Common Courage Press, 1998
• Diodati, C., IMMUNIZATION History, Ethics, Law and the Health, Integral Aspects, 1999
• Duffy, W., SUGAR BLUES, Time Warner, 1975 (the classic that inspired the health revolution)
• Erasmus, U., FATS THAT HEAL FATS THAT KILL, Alive Books, 2nd ed., 1997
• Fallon, S., NOURISHING TRADITIONS: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, New Trends, 1999
• Firshein, R., REVERSING ASTHMA Time Warner Books, 1996
• Strauts, Z., MD, TURNING LEAD INTO GOLD How Heavy Metal Poisoning Can Affect Your Child and How to Prevent and Treat it, New Star Books, Vancouver, 1995
• Krop, J., MD, HEALING THE PLANET ONE PATIENT AT A TIME: A Primer in Environmental Medicine, Kos Publishing Inc., 2002
• Rapp, D., MD, IS THIS YOUR CHILD’S WORLD? How You Can Fix the Schools and Homes that are Making Your Children Sick, Bantam, 1996
• Rona, Z., MD, NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO VACCINATION, ALIVE Books, 2001
• Simontacchi, C., CRAZY MAKERS: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Brains and Harming Our Children, Tarcher-Putnam, 2000
• Suzuki, D., “THE NATURE OF THINGS” program of October 2002: “Up Close and Toxic”, and of March 2001: “Effects of Pesticides on Human Development”, text: call Bowdens Fulfillment Services (416) 750-2220
• Walker, M., ELEMENTS OF DANGER: Protect Yourself Against the Hazards of Modern Dentistry, Hampton Roads, 2000
• Werbach, M.R., MD, TEXTBOOK OF NUTRITIONAL MEDICINE, Third Line Press, 1999
To subscribe to the Children’s Environmental Health Network (CEHN) email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources for air purification systems:
• The Allergy Shop, Ottawa, call (613) 737-5183
• Pure Air Plus, call (519) 941-5213
• Grassroots, two locations in Toronto: 372 Danforth Ave. (416) 466-2841 or 408 Bloor St. W, (416) 944-1993
To subscribe to “Touch the Future,” email TTFuture@aol.com