CAT | Mental Health
You may not be thinking about toxins the next time you change a diaper or put your child down for a nap, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Recent studies show that flame retardant chemicals found commonly in changing table pads, crib mattresses, nursing pillows and even pajamas are highly toxic—especially to developing children—but a new bill could take a giant step toward reducing exposure to these dangerous substances.
United States Senator Charles Schumer recently introduced the Children and Firefighters Protection Act, which would ban the production and sale of children’s products and upholstered furniture made with the top ten most toxic flame retardants: TDCPP, TCEP, TBBPA, decabromodiphenyl ether, antimony trioxide, HBCD, TBPH, TBB, chlorinated paraffins and TCPP. The bill would also require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to review the safety of all other chemical flame retardants and ban them if necessary.
Speaking in New York last month, Schumer cited new evidence that exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals in flame retardants has been linked to developmental delays in children as well as a higher risk of hormone disruption and cancer. One study revealed they raised toxin levels in children by up to 23% compared to that of their mothers. And, when those toxins ignite and become airborne, they pose a significant risk to the firefighters who breathe them in.
On top of that, Schumer pointed out that the flame retardants used so often today are not even effective when it comes to preventing fires or slowing down the burn rate once a fire has been ignited.
Instead of just offering advice or handing them a pamphlet about the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, new recommendations from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) say health care practitioners could be doing more to help their overweight patients lower their risk of heart disease.
In particular, patients with excess weight coupled with key risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels would do better with “intensive behavioral counseling,” according to a recent review of nearly 75 different studies focusing on lifestyle intervention techniques for overweight individuals with heart risk factors.
According to the USPSTF, patients who met with their doctors more frequently and who had recurring sessions with trained nutritionists, dieticians and other health educators were able to lose more weight and significantly reduce their risk of heart disease and diabetes. The key, said USPSTF Chair Dr. Michael LeFevre, is the ongoing one-on-one counseling, which helps to assess each patient individually and reinforce healthy habits such as regular exercise.
The new recommendations are similar to those issued by the USPSTF in 2012 (which focused solely on obese patients without heart disease risk factors). However, according to LeFevre one of the biggest limitations when it comes to providing such intense counseling is that unlike the larger health organizations, many smaller, solo practitioners lack the time and resources necessary to provide this level of focused treatment. Still, he encourages health care providers to do what they can to promote heart-healthy living.