Girl Planting seeds

10 Years

kids_recycling_croppedBy Dr. Lawrence Rosen
Ten years.  This contribution to the Summer Newsletter culminates my decade of service to The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®. It has truly been an honor to work with everyone here to make the planet a healthier place for children. 

When I think back over these years, I realize we’ve accomplished a lot, and I recognize we’ve still got a long way to go. 

Two publications bookend my tenure.  In 2007, Deirdre and I wrote a call-to-arms documenting the impact of environmental injustice on children’s health, concluding,

“Children cannot protect themselves nor can they clean up an environment our society has created. Independently, they have no political or economic voice. It is our responsibility to insure that their environment is safe. A compassionate and successful society will invest its assets in the good health of its children—all of its children. Addressing these environmental inequities will require a substantial resource shift and a commitment from government, industry, and citizens. A paradigm shift directing our focus toward preventing disease is urgently needed.”

In the decade that’s followed, we’ve written articles, advocating for cleaner air, water, food and health care.   We’ve educated health professionals and consumers about the effects of environmental toxins on our children’s health and the cyclical impact of how we practice health care on the environment.  HackensackUMC has become a national leader in sustainability, working with organizations like Practice Greenhealth.  I applied the lessons I learned from my work here to create my own integrative and ecologically-sustainable pediatric practice, The Whole Child Center, in 2008.  Finally, under the tireless guidance of Erin Ihde, we’ve completed and published three major pediatric environmental health research studies and two more are finding their way through the pipeline for publication.  I’m very proud of our research program; the work we are doing I believe will absolutely improve the lives of children.   

Yet, there’s so much more to be done.  In the second of our two papers, published recently, Deirdre and I point out that all of the health ills profiled in our 2007 article have only worsened.  We also profiled three emerging environmental threats to children’s health: climate change, electromagnetic radiation and toxic stress.  The challenges we face have multiplied.  We make a compelling moral and economic case to change our national approach to pediatric health care.  Will those in power heed our call?  Through all of our voices, together, I really hope so.  I’m an optimist by nature, so I choose to believe we will ultimately see a shift in priorities.  Working with children all day long has convinced me that, even if the grown-ups don’t change course, our kids will stand up and take charge.  The ever-rising voice of millennials will steadily and surely be harder to ignore.  Let us work together and dedicate not only our voices, but also our actions, to the cause.  Our future depends on it. 

dr_rosen_bio_pic_3-6-14Lawrence Rosen, MD is an integrative pediatrician and co-author of Treatment Alternatives for Children. He is the founder of the Whole Child Center, one of the country’s first green and integrative pediatric practices, and he serves as Medical Advisor to The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center®.  Dr. Rosen’s academic credentials include positions as past Chair of the AAP Section on Integrative Medicine, Clinical Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at UMDNJ, and author of numerous articles and book chapters on integrative pediatrics. He is also the pediatric columnist for Kiwi Magazine and blogs for the Huffington Post. 

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