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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 notes: Threats to Child Development LECTURE NOTES AND SUPPLEMENTARY READING NOTES

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Health Studies
Jason Ramsay

Lecture 11: Threats to Child Development from the Built Environment July 30, 2012 -what is skepticism? -an approach to evaluating idea -not “doubting” -a skeptic asks for evidence and does not take things on face value -skeptic is very open-minded and will accept what the evidence suggests -skepticism and science: -the scientific method is central to skepticism  it requires evidence preferably derived from validated testing -anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies generally don’t meet the qualifications for scientific evidence, and thus won’t often be accepted by a responsible skeptic; which often explains why skeptics get such a bad rap for being negative or disbelieving people  simply following the scientific method -the Mozart effect in children: -there is a pop culture phenomenon called “The Mozart Effect” -listening to Mozart makes your child smarter or that early childhood exposure to classical music has a good effect on child cognitive development -has been extended to encompass any kind of stimulation  is a HUGE business -some examples: 1) playing classical music next to the mother’s body when the fetus is developing 2) exposing your children to a curriculum of stimulating programs that feature lots of shiny bouncing toys and surprises set to classical music -some are marketed under “Baby Einstein” -science behind it:: -some researchers (Rauscher et al.) claimed that listening to Mozart sonata increased IQ score by 8-9 points in children (temporarily) -this research has not been replicated anywhere -research has failed to turn up any evidence of the Mozart effect -therefore, we conclude this one is false -BUT: 1) it won’t harm your child and 2) it is soothing for adults who have to listen to a screaming child all day long -HOWEVER there is good evidence to suggest that stimulating your child is a good idea, and severely neglected children would benefit from listening to classical music or receiving ANY stimulation at all -Jenny McCarthy: -autism is caused by vaccination therefore you should stop vaccinating child to prevent autism -vaccine made out of thiomersol: mercury derivative and a preservative used in vaccines -it is ethyl mercury however and not methyl mercury (bad mercury) and has not been used in 10 years -many parents notice autism symptoms at the time of the routine vaccine of their child -autism is usually only diagnosed at about two years old at the earliest, the time of many vaccinations  correlation, not causation -autism is very difficult for parents to face, therefore something is needed for blame -bisphenol-A (BPA) -Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie -used in plastics manufacture -health risks suspected since 1930s  it is an endocrine disrupter—it mimics estrogen -present in baby bottles  more comes out if heated -there is no evidence to support any of these findings -soya products contain high amounts of estrogen mimicking chemicals, and nobody speaks out against them -all evidence suggests that it is at most a tiny risk to babies and virtually no risk to adults -unfortunately, many “green” websites often make inflammatory statements that have emotional bite—but very little evidence to back them up -FDA’s current perspective on BPA: “At this interim stage, FDA shares the perspective of the National Toxicology Program that recent studies provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. FDA also recognizes substantial uncertainties with respect to the overall interpretation of these studies and their potential implications for human health effects of BPA exposure. These uncertainties relate to issues such as the routes of exposure employed, the lack of consistency among some of the measured endpoints or results between studies, the relevance of some animal models to human health, differences in the metabolism (and detoxification) of and responses to BPA both at different ages and in different species, and limited or absent dose response information for some studies.” -context: -there are two unprecedented issues in the world today: 1) threats to planetary climate/longevity due to human engineering and production 2) attempts to reduce, reuse, recycle -#@ looks like an antidote to #1 -a brief history of threats to growing up: -as we have seen throughout the course, there have been many threats throughout history, tor growing up -many of these were from the natural world -however, by the advent of cooking with fire, the threats could be man made -by the industrial revolution, the threats were serious: unclean fuels, unsafe machinery, toxic exposure due to unsafe environments of child labour -things were more serious than pollutants -from The bitter cry of children by Spargo (1906): “This great nation, in its commercial madness destroys its babies…accidents to the hands such as cut, broken or crushed fingers are common…sometimes there is a worse accident: a terrified shriek is heard and a boy is mangled and torn in the machinery or disappears in the chute to be picked out later smothered and dead.” -environmental awareness: -in 1960s and 70s there was a growing awareness of effect of humanity of toxifying environment -EPA was founded in 1970 due to public pressure under the Nixon Administration in the USA -their mandate was cleaner water, air and soil -EPA was assigned daunting task of repairing damage already done to the natural environment and to establish new criteria to guide Americans in making a cleaner environment a reality -however, there was not really any definitive research on effects of toxins on child development, although there was a growing concern about the effects of lead contamination and air pollution -there was also very little conclusive evidence about the influence of the environment on development…(no idea of sensitivities or critical periods) -a major concern=rise in developmental disorders and disabilities -the current controversy is fuelled by the significant increase in the diagnosis of developmental disorders/disabilities in the last two decades -rise in diagnoses of autism -rise in the diagnoses of ADHD -rise in developmental disorders -however, there are many alternative explanations for this increase: -better diagnosis -change in society and what is required of children -genetic determinants due to risk of women having children later in life -toxins -other environmental factors (e.g. TV, internet, Twitter) -even if we put aside the idea that there is a direct link between toxins explanations and developmental disability rates, we know that there is a link between specific toxins and developmental problems -lead: -lead, mercury, dioxins are some of the toxins that lead to disorders -dioxins: -stored in fatty tissue (sushi tuna) -teratogenic: interfere with normal embryonic development -mutagenic: causes genetic mutations -carcinogenic: causes cancer -by product of heavy industry -same class of toxicity as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) -wa
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