Saturday, November 25, 2006

Developmental Disabilities – Our Brains – Our Foods – The Connection

In a recent conversation, a friend asked me why I pay the high price for organic foods. “Is it because you’ve had cancer?” she queried, “I can’t afford to buy every food organic all the time, so I just never got in the habit. How do you sort out when to buy organic? Does it really make that much difference?”

There are several reasons to consider switching your food choices to organic, whenever your budget and the local options allow. The benefit of eating these organic foods is only one reason. By supporting the organics industry, you also contribute positively to a serious, and seriously overlooked, environmental problem of our times. Chemicals in our environment, whether used directly in the production of foods, or polluting our environment in other ways, are putting our brains at risk. At the very least, supporting the organic foods industry places you on the positive side of this crucial equation.

Industrial Chemicals and Brain Development
(See “Developmental Neurotoxicity of Industrial Chemicals” The Lancet, November 8, 2006)

I have been following the news about chemicals used in manufacturing of all kinds, as well as in growing and processing our foods, for over thirty years. Recent information of importance to us all comes from researchers at Harvard School of Public Health and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The paper was named “A Silent Pandemic: Industrial Chemicals Are Impairing the Brain Development of Children Worldwide.”

The paper reports the striking statistic that one out of every six children has a developmental disability, usually involving the nervous system. Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs), include autism, attention deficit disorder, and mental retardation. "Even if substantial documentation on their toxicity is available, most chemicals are not regulated to protect the developing brain," says Grandjean. "Only a few substances, such as lead and mercury, are controlled with the purpose of protecting children. The 200 other chemicals that are known to be toxic to the human brain are not regulated to prevent adverse effects on the fetus or a small child." At present in the U.S., requirements for toxicity testing of chemicals are inadequate.
Other consequences from chemical exposures to developing brains include shortened attention spans, slowed motor coordination and heightened aggressiveness, along with increased risk of Parkinson’s later in life.

I want to give my body its best chance for continued health, and I consider organic foods to be an important part of that objective. When I buy organic foods or foods from a transitional farm (on their way to passing the strict organic certification), I vote. I make the statement that I do not want our environment, and the developing brains of our children, polluted. In this way the consumer functions as a kind of regulatory agency. This is a great use of our brains!
Be well,

To learn more about buying organics and overall impact, an excellent article can be found at
For more information about industrial chemicals and toxic effects on brain development, go to:
To see information about toxins in newborns, see the Environmental Working Group’s site at
If you know of families with children with an autism spectrum disorder, you might let them know about an autism study at

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