Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, EDC’s, include Bisphenol-A (BPA), PCB’s, phthalates and agricultural pesticides that are in everyday items such as plastic water bottles, shower curtains, beauty products (including nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances), vinyl floor coverings, and more. The joint study highlights a range of health problems associated with EDC’s including breast cancer in women; developmental effects on the nervous system in children and attention deficit hyperactivity in children.
Theo Colborn, Ph.D., President of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange talks about chemicals, parents and dreams of the future for our children.
Theo asks ‘Where are parents going to get information to help understand the myriad of factors in the environment and the effect on their children’. ‘Growing Greener Children’is such a resource for parents.
The rose is said to represent purity and perfection and now it has been documented that it can reduce stress. The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology reported that researchers found that the simple inhalation of patchouli and rose oil reduced sympathetic nervous activity by 40%, with rose oil reducing adrenaline concentrations by 30%. (1)
When my son was in kindergarten, he would receive a lavender face wash before leaving for the day. In the last five years we have introduced using flower essences along with other eco parenting initiatives, into parent education programs in Australia. Children and parents receive massages with a fine sphagni rose or lavender oil. A lavender face wash is used to help settle the children at rest time. The parents have reported that the children are calmer and more relaxed. They are now using the oils to help their children get a good nights sleep.
It confirms many parents instinct regarding television. A study of sixty 4 year olds were randomly assigned to watch a fast paced television cartoon or an educational cartoon. The study found that children who watched the fast pace television cartoon performed significantly worse in executive function tasks.
The conclusion the researchers drew –‘just 9 minutes of viewing a fast-paced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-year-olds’ executive function. Parents should be aware that fast-paced television shows could at least temporarily impair young children’s executive function.’
Marc Weisskopf, Mark and Catherine Winkler Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, discusses a study that finds children exposed to higher levels of pesticides known as organophosphates could have a higher risk of being diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (2:02)
ADHD, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, is the most commonly diagnosed behavioural disorder in childhood. It has significant repercussions for the child and their family as well as affecting the child’s school performance, well-being and social interactions.
In 2001 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines for treatment for the evaluation and diagnosis of ADHD. Now they have extended the guidelines for diagnosis and treatment of ADHD in children from 6 to 12 years to 4 to 18 years. The guidelines, “ADHD: Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Evaluation and Treatment of Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,” were released at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference on October 16th and published in Academy’s Pediatrics.
Delta Kay, Byron Bay Arakwal spokesperson, works as a Aboriginal Family Support Worker with the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative in Northern NSW, Australia. She describes the phenomenal change in the behaviour of children when all the plastics were removed from playgroup and replaced with natural wooden toys and other natural materials at the launch of the eco parenting book series in Byron Bay in August, 2011.
“We packed away all the plastic and brought out all the wood and everything changed. Their children’s behaviour changed and I watched how the parents changed. Parents couldn’t believe their children’s behaviour by putting plastic away.”
In 2009 the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative, Ballina, Northern NSW, invited Jane Hanckel and the Inspir=Ed project to run a nine week parent education program along with a professional development program for Aboriginal health and early childhood professionals. Following a makeover of the playgroup room which involved throwing out old toys and equipment, painting the playgroup room a soft calming light pink and packing away all the plastic the parents and children were welcomed by the quite calming environment. Over the nine weeks parents and children learnt new parenting skills in a warm and supportive environment. As Delta describes, the changes in the behaviour of the children and parents was extraordinary. From running around and climbing the walls the children played happily and cooperatively with each other. The children and parents learnt new songs and foods to eat creating a stronger sense of connection to each other and the community.
The work with Delta, Bunjum and other communities was one of the inspirations for Jane to write ‘eco parenting – growing greeener children’. “I witnessed at Bunjum and other communities how by simply changing the environment by removing plastics and creating calm and nurturing spaces the relationship and behaviour of children and parents change. In a world where children are increasingly being medicated for dysfunctional behaviour, it is so important to look at the environments along with diet and lifestyle, before resorting to medical intervention.”
Jane Hanckel and Thanh Cherry, international Steiner Waldorf early childhood educator, run training workshops for health and early childhood professionals. Jane co-founded the Spirit of Childhood Foundation to run Inspir=Ed programs in communities across Australia.