According to a new study, air pollution exposure before birth may cause lower IQ scores in children. In the study 249 women in New York City wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last few months of pregnancy. The women’s lives exposed them to different levels of air pollution – mostly from car, truck and bus exhaust. At age 5, before starting school, the women’s children were given IQ tests. The children exposed to the most air pollution before birth scored an average of 4-5 points lower. Unfortunately, the Bill of Rights doesn’t guarantee the right to breathe clean air.
According to the World Health Organization, mothers should breast-feed babies within 1 hour of birth and continue feeding only breast milk for 6 months. Breast milk provides vital nutrients and strengthens the immune system to fight diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia. However, in 2009 fewer than 40% of mothers worldwide exclusively breast-feed their infants for that long – many because they don’t know how to breast feed or because it’s painful. If 90% of mothers breast-fed for 6 months, it would prevent about 13% of the 10 million under-age-5 deaths annually. This is information pregnant women should stay abreast of.
According to a study published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology”, digging in beach sand raises the risk of diarrhea 44% in children under age 11. Being buried in sand raises the risk 27%. It seems the top 8 inches of beach sand contain high levels of E. coli and Enterococcus bacteria from storm sewer runoff and animal feces. In fact, the levels of germs in sand can be 40 times greater than the levels in the water at the same beaches. When children put sandy hands in their mouth, they ingest the germs in the form of “sandwiches”.
According to clinical studies, sugar-free gum is effective in reducing children’s cavities. Now gum makers are adding xylitol. Besides being a natural sweetener, xylitol is an anti-microbial that acts against bacteria to prevent cavities. For there to be enough xylitol in gum, it has to be the first ingredient listed on the gum package; and for it to be effective, 2 pieces have to be chewed 3 times a day. Children in Finland have been chewing xylitol gum for years as part of a successful public health initiative to reduce cavities – and hopefully one day to “Finnish” with cavities completely.
If you a small child or baby and you think you will be entering a polluted area, please use a travel pram that has a a hood to help prevent toxic air reaching your baby. We recommend checking out the Joolz Aer travel stroller for the best protection.