Girl Planting seeds
Deirdre_Imus_Headshot_cropped_new_2-9-15_cropHACKENSACK, NJ, November 1, 2007 -- "We're paying for a disease care system, not a healthcare system," said Deirdre Imus, a national leader on children's health and the environment who delivered the keynote address at Pangea, a conference for pediatric wellness in San Francisco Oct. 25.
The Pangea Conference, sponsored by the Integrative Pediatrics Council, focuses on pediatric integrative medicine, a holistic approach to healing that encompasses multiple disciplines and includes complementary and alternative therapies.
Something Terrible
"Something terrible has happened to our children…We are the richest nation in the world, and yet we have some of the sickest children in the world," Ms. Imus said. In her speech to pediatricians, nurse practitioners and other health practitioners who care for children, Ms. Imus recounted the mounting statistics on childhood diseases and developmental disorders, and emphasized the need for prevention to stem the tide. (See The State of Children's Health.")
"Children are especially sensitive to toxins in their environments, but they cannot speak for themselves. What they are telling us through these appalling statistics is: 'We don't want to be 'canaries in the coal mine.'"
"We cannot act soon enough to address this growing public health crisis," Ms. Imus said. "In years to come, the childhood diseases and disorders of today will continue to have a profound impact on families as well as our nation’s productivity and economic well being." Autism and autism spectrum disorders are another case in point Ms. Imus said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 150 children in the U.S. are impacted.
"We must fundamentally reorder our priorities -- and start rewarding the primary and preventive care that keeps people healthy."
Environmental Injustice
Also at the conference, Ms. Imus participated on a panel devoted to environmental issues moderated by Dr. Lawrence Rosen, medical advisor to the Environmental Center and a national leader in pediatric integrative medicine. Dr. Rosen and Ms. Imus co-authored, "Environmental Injustice: Children's Health Disparities and the Role of the Environment," published in the Sept./Oct. issue of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. The paper reviews the extensive research that shows the detrimental impact of environmental toxins on children, especially those in poverty, from low-level ozone and exhaust to heavy metals such as lead and mercury.
Dr. Rosen and Ms. Imus called for a shift in resources and a commitment from government, industry and citizens toward a greater focus on disease prevention. "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,” Ms. Imus said.
Dr. Rosen said the "Precautionary Principle" should serve as a guide for addressing environmental exposures to toxins, i.e. one must act to prevent harm rather than seek to remove toxins from use only after they have proven harmful. "Definitive cause-and-effect proof can be difficult to show because children do not live in controlled settings, and it is often an interplay between genetics and environmental factors that triggers a disease."
Ms. Imus added, "If we know a substance is toxic and there is substantial evidence to show that exposure may harm a significant number of children, then there is little harm in acting now. But there may be harm in further delay. --And caution does not prevent anyone from doing more research."
Dr. Rosen said pediatricians who practice integrative medicine are sensitive to the impact of the environment on health. They emphasize family centered and culturally effective care that focuses on the whole child.
Addressing pediatricians, Ms. Imus said, "It's up to you to lead by example, in your lives and your practices, for the future of children's health."
In addition to her role at the Environmental Center, Deirdre Imus is co-founder and co-director with husband, Don Imus, of The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit. The authentic 4,000 acre working cattle ranch in northern New Mexico provides the experience of the American cowboy to children suffering from cancer and various blood diseases, as well as to children who have lost a brother or sister to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
The Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology® developed the award-winning Greening the Cleaning® program. Greening the Cleaning® means eliminating to the greatest extent possible all cleaning agents containing hazardous ingredients and replacing them with environmentally responsible ingredients with the least level of toxicity.
100% of all profits from the institutional products go to the Environmental Center for supporting education and research to identify, control and ultimately prevent exposures to environmental factors that may cause adult, and especially pediatric cancer, as well as other health problems with our children. For the retail line, 100% of all profits go to The Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer.
Additional Reading and References:
Lawrence D. Rosen, MD, and Deirdre Imus. "Environmental Injustice: Children's Health Disparities and the Role of the Environment," Explore, Sept./Oct. 2007. Vol 3, No. 5. Available on:
Philippe Grandjean, David Bellinger, Åke Bergman, Sylvaine Cordier, George Davey-Smith, Brenda Eskenazi, David Gee, Kimberly Gray, Mark Hanson, Peter van den Hazel, Jerrold J. Heindel, Birger Heinzow, Irva Hertz-Picciotto, Howard Hu, Terry T-K Huang, Tina Kold Jensen, Philip J. Landrigan, I. Caroline McMillen, Katsuyuki Murata, Beate Ritz, Greet Schoeters, Niels Erik Skakkebæk, Staffan Skerfving, Pal Weihe. "The Faroes Statement: Human Health Effects of Developmental Exposure to Chemicals in Our Environment." Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology (OnlineEarly Articles). doi:10.1111/j.1742-7843.2007.00114. 
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