Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Detoxing Your Baby's Umbilical Cord Blood



Wait, what?   Clean up a baby’s umbilical chord blood?  Nothing should be more protected nor purer, right?  Well, unfortunately today’s babies have over 200  industrial chemicals and pollutants running through their umbilical cord blood. Some of  these chemicals have never been tested for safety on infants nor fetus’, others we know are toxic with serious health repercussions.  

The good news?   If you want to you can drastically reduce the number of chemicals that your unborn child is exposed to - but, even though I usually recommend small steps to not get overwhelmed in your quest for a less chemically dependent life, if you are already pregnant the time to start is NOW (ideally this process should start before you get pregnant).  


Why the Developing Fetus Is  SO Vulnerable
First of all it is really important to understand just how vulnerable the developing fetus is to all sort of stressors and chemicals.  Think about it:  in the 40 weeks of pregnancy, a fetus goes from two cells to a fully developed baby.   Due to its (tiny) size,  to the rapid development of a   baby's organs and systems and the fact that systems that detoxify and excrete industrial chemicals in adults are not fully developed, this is the period of life where we are most vulnerable to even small amounts of chemicals.  

Some chemicals that interrupt the detailed and fast passed development of a fetus can, at high levels, wreak havoc and result in severe birth defects.   But even at  lower levels they cause subtle, but important, changes in development that surface later in childhood such as learning or behavioral problems, certain cancers and even neurodegenerative disease.

Why Cord Blood is Vital to Baby
The umbilical cord, and the blood inside of it, is the lifeline between mother and baby.  It carries oxygenated blood and nutrients to the baby.  Without this connection it cannot survive.  Now, however, we know that this lifeline is also  carrying a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta at the very time of massive development.

Where /How Does Cord Blood Get Polluted?

Just about everything the mother is exposed to can potentially pollute; what she eats, breaths, lathers on her body, uses as makeup, will make its way to the baby via the umbilical cord.  In the past, scientists thought that the placenta somehow filtered these chemicals out, however new studies have found that, in fact, any chemical that the mother is exposed to makes their way to her developing baby.

The bad news is that the cord blood gets polluted through the mother's daily activities.  The good news is that the mother can take steps to reduce her and her unborn child's exposure.

What Chemicals have been found in the umbilical cord?
Among the greatest chemical offenders found in umbilical cord bloos and polluting our unborn children: 

- PBDE:  hormone disruptor linked to undescended testicles in baby boys. 

- BPA:  hormone disruptor, BPA exposure may lead to abnormal development in infants.  Potential sources:  hard clear plastics, canned food, store receipts.

- Organochlorine pesticides (OCs): DDT, chlordane and other pesticides. Linked to cancer and numerous reproductive effects. Potential sources: Largely banned in the U.S. today they persist for decades in the environment and make their way to the food chain which eventually we eat.  

- Perfluorochemicals (PFCs): Linked to cancer, birth defects, and more.
Potential sources:   Stain and grease resistant coatings for food wrap, carpet,  furniture in your house or place of work

- Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs):  Adversely affects brain development and the thyroid.  Potential sources:  flame retardants in upholstered furniture, electronics.

- PCB:  Banned in the U.S. in 1976. Persist for decades in the environment.  Cause cancer and nervous system problems. Potential sources: Industrial insulators and lubricants and food chain.

- Mercury : Harms brain development and function.
Potential sources: Pollutant from coal-fired power plants, mercury-containing products, and certain industrial processes. High mercury seafood. 

- Dioxin exposures during fetal development have been implicated in endocrine-related cancers in women (breast and uterine, for example).  In men it alters testosterone levels and are linked with diabetes.    Potential sources:  eating fatty foods

How can a mom prevent exposing her child to toxic chemicals? 

The key here is to start as soon as you can, ideally before pregnancy, to reduce your exposure to chemicals.    If we know certain chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis can negatively impact our baby, we have to do something about it.   And, at the end of the day, the mother has all the control.


There are many things a pregnant (or soon to be pregnant) woman can do to lower her exposure to chemicals
  1. Eat certified organic.  Especially produce, protein and dairy
  2. Test your home water supply and consider purchasing a water filter if needed  (more information in our post 

    HOW TO TEST FOR TOXIC CHEMICALS AT HOME: TESTING YOUR PAINT, WATER, AIR AND BODY

  3. Keep a dust-free home (flame retardant chemicals from electronics and furniture as well as lead from old paint bind to dust). Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter
  4. Use natural products to clean ( vinegar and water as an all purpose cleaner. for more ideas read our post
  5. Use less beauty products and switch to safer cosmetics and everyday beauty products. When possible use coconut oil or avocado oil for full body moisturizing instead of store bought moisturizers. 
  6. Avoid anything that has a synthetic smell or the words ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ listed in the ingredients (ie: perfume, makeup, shampoos, moisturizers, cleaners, home fragrance etc) 
  7. Avoid breathing gasoline fumes when you're filling your car. 
  8. Don’t cook with nonstick pans, instead use stainless steel and cast iron 
  9. use less plastic in the kitchen (to reheat and store food) switch to glass or stainless steel 
  10. Wash your hands regularly with plain soap (no synthetic fragrances added) and water. 
  11. If buying new nursery furniture, try to stay away from MDF and plywood since these usually off gas formaldehyde.  Instead, opt for natural wood.
  12. Follow @nontoxicmunchkin for tips and information on how to reduce our chemical load


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