Posted On: April 25, 2008

Schools Concerned About Lead in Artificial Turf: Brain Risk?

The artificial turf used in high school football fields may contain dangerous levels of lead:

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission opened an investigation this month after the New Jersey health department found elevated lead levels in two fields, which then were closed.

But until more information comes out, local school districts are not assuming that their fields contain unsafe levels of lead, several officials said.

"I'm not going to alarm parents. There's just not enough data to raise a red flag," said Paula Smith, an assistant superintendent at the Alief Independent School District. "We're in a holding pattern."

Hopefully this is a false alarm. The effects of lead, even small amounts, can be extremely dramatic (though this is usually found in younger children). Children chronically exposed to lead in their homes can develop mental retardation and other brain-related harm.

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Posted On: April 18, 2008

Common Baby Bottle Ingredient Linked to Problems; Company Ceases Use

Previously, we blogged about a link between bisphenol A and problems in human development. As the article says, the advisory panel to the National Toxicology Program (part of the NIH) had previously dismissed all concerns about this as "minimal." This new report concludes that there is reason for "some concern." Bisphenol A can cause problems for fetuses, babies, and young children, but apparently not for adult humans.

Plastic industry representatives argued that there are no "serious or high-level concerns", and the National Toxicology Program concedes that more research is needed.

Nevertheless, the bottle maker Nalgene Outdoor Products has decided to stop using plastic containing bisphenol A . This may have something to do with the new report, and may also be related to Canada's plans to declare bisphenol A toxic. In any case, hopefully more studies will be done to determine how much of a threat this is to young children.

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Posted On: April 17, 2008

Seizure Medications While Nursing Do Not Harm Infants

Given the frequent confusion over what drugs and foods are and are not dangerous to breastfeeding infants, mothers will be relieved to kow that breast-feeding while on seizure medications does not have any apparent harmful effects on children. From the article:

"Our early findings show breast-feeding during anti-epilepsy drug treatment doesn't appear to have a negative impact on a child's cognitive abilities," study author Kimford Meador, of the University of Florida at Gainesville, said in a prepared statement. "However, more research is needed to confirm our findings, and women should use caution due to the limitations of our study."

The study will follow up on these children until they reach the age of six.

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Posted On: April 17, 2008

Child Wins Birth Defect Settlement

The migrant worker parents of a 3-year-old Florida boy have won a significant settlement from Ag-Mart Produce, arguing that their child's birth defects were caused by exposure to pesticides in Ag-Mart's fields. This is enough to provide for the boy's expenses for the rest of his life, as the plaintiff's lawyer says. From the article:

Terms of the settlement have been kept private, but the family's attorney, Andrew Yaffa, said the money is "significant." Carlitos will not have to worry about medical care the rest of his life.

"Hopefully, someday, some way through medical research, they will be able to equip him with a wheelchair so he can gain some independence," Yaffa said.

Carlitos' parents said the boy is representative of many more children affected by pesticides, but their families are afraid to come forward. Yaffa credited the family for exposing deplorable conditions in farm work and creating changes that will benefit others for years to come.

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Posted On: April 4, 2008

CDC: 1 in 43 American Babies Abused or Neglected

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a new report showing that 1 in 43 babies under the age of 1 in the U.S. have been neglected or abused.

From the linked article:

Ileana Arias, who leads injury-prevention efforts at the centers, said, “The findings do demonstrate a clear pattern of early neglect and physical abuse that is largely preventable.”

Because this is the first data looking at babies to age 1, it is unclear whether abuse is increasing or decreasing, said a centers epidemiologist, Rebecca Leeb.

The report said 905,000 American children of all ages were victims of maltreatment in 2006. Maltreatment is the third-leading cause of death of American children under 3, Ms. Arias said.

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