CEHC (2)How can chemical exposures affect a child’s ability to learn and reason? Are early life exposures linked to problems in child development, such as ADHD or learning disabilities? These questions were addressed at an ‘educational’ symposium of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center today.

In his remarks Philip Landrigan MD, Director of CEHC, spoke of the rising rates of disease among America’s children. He noted the 3x rise in asthma and obesity in children since 1963, as well as the rise in childhood leukemia from 1975-2004, including brain cancer — and suggested radiation and pesticides might have something to do with it. Other findings include: 1 in 6 American children have a developmental or learning disability, including ADHD and autism. Lead and mercury were cited as leading culprits, along with arsenic, PCBs and BPA.

Dr. Landrigan said that 80,000 chemicals have been invented in the last 50 years and less than 20% have been tested for their effects on children. The advice from the doctor: “shop smart, do what you can to reduce exposure — yours and your children.” OC told the doctor of seeing a pregnant woman in the park with a laptop computer resting on her baby bump. He said that if it were his daughter he would advise her against that.