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Top 5 Environmental Threats To Children's Health

We often think of environmental dangers as being limited to air or food toxins.  While important contributors to health disorders in children, these exposures are only two of the top five environmental threats to children’s health, according to integrative pediatrician, Dr. Lawrence D. Rosen.
    Accidents remain the number one cause of childhood death in the United States.  Children suffer greatly due to motor vehicle accidents, often preventable through the proper use of seat belts and car seats.  We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the number of injuries, especially head trauma, in children not wearing helmets and pads while riding bicycles, scooters, and other objects with wheels.  Water-related deaths, most notably from pool drowning, are always tragic.  Accidental poisonings, often from medications prescribed for household members or from common household cleaners, can be fatal.
    Children today are under more stress than at any other point in history.  They have more schoolwork and activities scheduled than ever before.  Media over-stimulation  (TV, videogames, the internet, iPods) is prevalent and multi-tasking has reached new heights.  A lack of unstructured free play, especially in natural spaces, adds cumulatively to these factors.  Stress contributes directly to ill health effects, including numerous pain (headaches, abdominal pain) and mind-body syndromes (anxiety, depression, ADHD, eating disorders, suicide and homicide).
    Respiratory toxins
    The deteriorating quality of the air we breathe has directly contributed to a rise in childhood respiratory disorders, including asthma and allergies.  Indoor and outdoor air pollution both contribute to respiratory ills, as does exposure to first- and second-hand tobacco smoke.  The chemicals used to clean our outdoor and indoor spaces are rarely tested in children and contribute to health disorders.  Families living in poor conditions must also cope with respiratory irritants such as mold and pest-related dander.
    Food and Water contaminants
    Our food and water sources are vulnerable to contamination with multiple biologically-disruptive agents.  Pesticides, phthalates, and heavy metals (including lead and mercury) have all been linked to childhood health disorders, including cancer.   A rise in neurodevelopmental disorders and endocrine/hormone disorders has attributed to greater exposure to these ingested contaminan
    Medications and Natural Health Supplements
The inappropriate use of both prescription and non-prescription (OTC) medications, and of natural health supplements, is rising.  We are witnessing a new morbidity in children due to indiscriminate use of these compounds, especially in pre-teens and teens.  More and more kids are abusing medications prescribed for mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD, as well as stimulant herbals like ephedra.  The use of natural health supplements for weight control and body-building is epidemic and poses numerous cardiac and other health dangers.  Furthermore, these unregulated products may be contaminated with substances such as lead and steroids. 
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rosen_thumbAbout Dr. Lawrence Rosen
Dr. Lawrence Rosen is a board-certified general pediatrician committed to family-centered, holistic child health care. He practices in northern New Jersey and consults at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Westchester County, NY.  An Assistant Professor in the NYMC Department of Pediatrics, he directs the MFCH Integrative Pediatrics Service. Dr. Rosen is a founding member (with Dr. Kathi Kemper) of the AAP's provisional Section on Complementary, Holistic and Integrative Medicine. He is a frequent speaker at both professional and consumer functions, discussing topics such as holistic care of the newborn and the integrative management of autism.
Dr. Rosen currently serves as Director of the Division of Pediatrics at Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood, N.J. He is a graduate of New York Medical College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Rosen completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  Most importantly, he is blessed by the presence of his beautiful and charming wife, Laura, and his inspiring children, Matthew and Talia.
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