Epidemics of Illness in Children

Do you have a child or know a child diagnosed with a food allergy? Asthma? Seasonal Allergies? Autism? Sensory processing disorder?

There is no doubt that children today are sick.

It has been said that the current generation of children is expected to be the first generation in history to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Current statistics show that:

1 in 6 children are learning disabled

1 in 9 have asthma

1 in 400 are developing diseases like diabetes, epilepsy and inflammatory bowel disorders

30% of young adults are diagnosed with mental illness- anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia.

These statistics cross all genders, race and socioeconomic classes and the numbers only seem to be on the rise.

I find these statistics incredibly troubling. They make me want to cry- and they often do.

But, we have the power to change the trajectory of children’s health in this country.

Of course, my bias is always food and nutrition, but these diagnoses encompass more than poor nutrition.

There are two terms used to describe the reason children are so sick : Total Load and Perfect Storm.

Basically, it means that these illnesses can be explained by a combination of toxicity, immune dysregulation, imbalance in the gut microbiome, inflammation and  genetic factors.

In 2009, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a study that found at least 232 toxic chemicals in human umbilical cord blood. This means that children are coming into the world already compromised. A compromised child may show issues quite young- reflux, colic, reactions to mother’s breast milk, inability to take prepared infant formula, eczema. Rather than truly addressing the root cause, band-aids are often given as solutions for these issues- a baby is given reflux medication,  put on “hypo- allergenic” soy infant formula, given topical creams for eczema.

As the baby develops, there may be chronic illness- ear infections, for which he is given antibiotics. These antibiotics further deplete the immune system by perpetuating the imbalance of the gut flora. Frequent colds, frequent viruses. It becomes an endless cycle.

As the immune system suffers, as more toxins accumulate in the body, as nutritional deficiencies become more pronounced, we begin to see children diagnosed with allergies, asthma, adhd, autism, autoimmune diseases.

Kenneth Bock, MD, the author of Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies- The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders states that these childhood epidemics were caused by “four fundamental, catastrophic changes in the environments of American children”.

These changes include:

1. Toxins Proliferated- These include pathogens in our water, chemicals from plastics, heavy metal exposure through the air (coal burning plants,) through vaccinations ; genetically engineered ingredients,  herbicides, pesticides, food additives.

2. Nutrition Deteriorated-  Our farming practices have changed and foods are less nutrient dense than they were years ago. Our eating habits have also changed. People are cooking less in the home, opting instead for convenience foods that are loaded with additives and preservatives. Children especially are fed processed foods deemed as “kid friendly”.

3. Vaccinations Increased- The number of vaccinations given to children have doubled since 1991.  Children can receive multiple vaccines in a single injection.

4. Ability to Detoxify has Dwindled- Toxins that enter the bodies of young children are likely to stay there rather than get moved out. The detoxification pathways of these children are halted in a sense. Until these pathways are open, children will hold on to these toxins, further impeding their immune system and their ability to function.

In the next article, we will be taking a closer look at these environmental issues and how they affect children. Stay tuned :)

 

Resources:

Environmental Working Group

Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies

Epidemic Answers

 

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