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Environment key to preventing childhood disabilities
Date:5/1/2012

lting from exposure to a wide range of environmental contaminants, including junk food and tobacco, the authors cite the following:

"the number of children diagnosed with an activity limitation stemming from a chronic health condition rose from 1.8 per cent in 1960 to 7.3 per cent in 2006, while the prevalence of diagnosed developmental disabilities rose from 12.8 per cent in 1997-99 to 15 per cent in 2006-08."

Toxins, such as airborne pollutants, lead, tobacco, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as well as suspected ones, such as organophosphate pesticides and bisphenol A, are combining to increase the incidence of prevalent childhood disabilities.

Asthma, obesity, mental illness and neuro-behavioural problems, such as ADHD and autism, are among these disabilities.

Asked how much this portrait of American childhood disability linked to environmental contamination is representative of Canada, Lanphear says: "The levels of exposures to airborne pollutants, lead, BPA and other chemicals are comparable or slightly lower in Canada than the U.S.

"Canada's surveillance for these neurodevelopmental disabilities is too insufficient to say anything about their national prevalence or whether the incidence of ADHD and autism is increasing. But the overall pattern for these disabilities is quite similar in Canada."

That being said, the authors recommend using Vancouver, British Columbia as a model for creating healthy cities of the future.

"We have low levels of air pollution for a large city," says Lanphear. "We also have low smoking rates, few highways that fragment the city, which encourages exercise, low levels of lead and a closed water system with pristine land to collect water. Our government leaders are also strongly committed to making Vancouver the greenest city in the world by 2010. Although there is much to do, it gives me great comfort to raise a family in Vancouver."


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Contact: Carol Thorbes
cthorbes@sfu.ca
778-782-3035
Simon Fraser University
Source:Eurekalert

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