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The Eco-friendly Mom and Baby for the 21st Century
Date:6/10/2008

Giving Your Baby a Healthy Start in Life

NEW YORK, June 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Having a baby gives moms a whole new outlook on being eco-friendly. But choosing the best foods, clothing and nontoxic products for pregnancy, babies and young children can be a source of anxiety for many women.

Experts speaking today at a March of Dimes luncheon for reporters here, titled "The Eco-Friendly Baby: Common Sense Guidelines for Mom," helped de-mystify the subject and provided tips to help moms become smart and knowledgeable "green" consumers.

Alan Greene, MD, FAAP, a pediatrician and author of "Raising Baby Green: The Earth Friendly Guide To Pregnancy, Childbirth and Baby Care"; and Joel Forman, MD, associate professor of Pediatrics and Community and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, answered some of the most frequently asked questions, including:

Is organic food best for pregnant women? The most important consideration for pregnant women and those thinking about becoming pregnant is getting essential nutrients such as folic acid, calcium and a wide variety of fruits, grains and vegetables in their diet. Dr. Greene advises that women can reduce exposure to pesticides and other contaminants by shopping wisely and choosing some organic products. He believes it's worth seeking out certain organic fruits and vegetables such as apples, peaches and potatoes, as well as beef, milk and soy products to avoid chemicals found in the conventional versions of those items. He also urges women to cut back on processed foods.

What about infant formulas and baby food? Dr. Forman says breastfeeding is best for babies. When it's time to switch to solid foods, Dr. Greene says, go for organic whole grain cereals.

Are some baby bottles safer than others? Recent studies show that plastics made from certain chemicals (phthalates and bisphenol A or BPA) may cause a risk to children's health. Since research is still being done on these chemicals, some parents have chosen to be cautious. Dr. Greene says there are some things women can do:

-- Breastfeed their babies so they don't have to use baby bottles;

-- Use baby bottles made of glass, polypropylene, or polyethylene;

-- Use baby products with labels that say they don't contain BPA or

phthalates.

What about infant clothing and bedding? Actually the biggest problem new parents have with baby clothes are that their infants grow so quickly that they outgrow clothes before they're even worn! So don't buy too many at once, or go green by seeking out hand-me-downs.

Dr. Greene says a baby mattress made of organic materials is worth the extra expense because the baby will lie so close to it every day and night for several years.

Which are the safest health care products; laundry detergents, shampoos or soaps? Organic shampoos have labels that are often misleading for parents. As for soaps, any kind can irritate babies' skin, so warm water is usually just fine. There's also no need to douse babies in baby powder. Talc, in fact, is a known irritant for babies' lungs.

What is the best way to create a safe, eco-friendly nursery? Dr. Forman advises families to avoid paints that contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Low-VOC and zero-VOC paints and finishes are now available from most major retailers.

Do antibacterial wipes, soaps, and other products really fight germs? Our experts say you don't need antibacterial soaps and wipes. The excessive use of antibacterial chemicals inhibits the development of our natural resistance and can contribute to creating resistant bacteria.

The March of Dimes has a section on its Web site about how to create healthy environments for babies, at marchofdimes.com/green.

The March of Dimes is the leading nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premier event, March for Babies(SM), the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org.


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SOURCE March of Dimes
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