Just who does this American Academy of Pediatrics thinks they are? Just because they control board certification for all pediatricians, set the guidelines for pediatric well and sick care, and are the largest influence in mainstream pediatrics does NOT give them the right to make outrageous claim that we in functional medicine have been making for years. That’s right, we have been advocating for parents to cut down on their children’s exposure to food additives such as dyes, preservatives, and plastic products for years. Suddenly the most mainstream of all pediatric organizations announces they have a concern about the effects of these chemicals on children’s health. After I pick myself up from my fainting spell, I will give them a standing ovation. Maybe now we’ll get someone’s attention to help children avoid the lifetime effects of such toxins.
Why now? They cite recent research that links various childhood and early adulthood health issues with increased exposure to these chemicals. They acknowledge that BPA (Bisphenol A) used in plastics mimic estrogen in the body and affect the reproductive, immune, and nervous system. They acknowledge that phthalates used in flexible tubing may affect little boy’s genital development and increase obesity. They acknowledge how PFC’s (Perfluoroalkyl chemicals) may affect children’s immune system, birth weight and later fertility, maybe even the thyroid and other systems. They acknowledge perchlorates in some dry food packaging may interfere with thyroid function. They acknowledge that some food dyes seem to worsen children’s ADHD symptoms. They acknowledge that nitrates and nitrites added to foods my also interrupt thyroid function and decrease the body’s oxygen delivery. Quite the list of acknowledgements in my opinion.
They even urge parents to avoid heating food in plastic, to look at the plastic type number on plastic food containers, avoid too much processed foods (how about “none”?), and use glass or metal instead of plastic. It should be interesting how their influence might tip the FDA to re-evaluate some currently “Generally recognized as safe” chemicals for recall. At least there may now be more money pumped into research so we can better understand how these chemicals affect children’s health.
The only question I have is this… What took them so stinking long to wake up? In functional medicine, we talk about the exposome, the total burden of various chemicals our bodies encounter. We talk about detoxification (the AAP is not ready to go there, but who knows in another 5-10 years what they may be announcing) to handle these toxins. We take time to educate our patients about healthy lifestyles from improving nutrient intake to lowering toxin intake. Its just part of our daily practice. I am not sure how mainstream pediatricians are going to fit this piece into their 15 minute visits, but at least they took a step in the right direction.
Regardless, we are excited to hear the mainstream docs echoing our long term stance even if they did not stop to acknowledge we had already raised this flag first. We’ll just keep on helping patients both children and adults live a healthier, more abundant life and wait for mainstream medicine’s next “aha!” moment and applaud from outside their tent.