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22
May

Review Highlights Organic Benefits to Fetal and Child Development

(Beyond Pesticides, May 22, 2009) A balanced, organic diet – both before and during pregnancy – can significantly reduce a child’s likelihood of being overweight, obese or developing diabetes. That, according to a literature review of over 150 scientific studies assembled by The Organic Center (TOC), an organic industry research institute focused on the science of organic food and farming. The TOC review”That First Step: Organic Food and a Healthier Future” documents that exposure to pesticides during pregnancy increases the risk of premature birth, low-birth weight, neurological problems and diabetes. Outlining six ways in which a balanced organic diet can contribute to healthy development, the report also examines how enzymes found in organic foods can slow and even reverse aspects of the aging process.

With the time between initial conception to the early years of development being the most critical in establishing lifelong health, a well-balanced diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables helps establish healthy food-taste preferences, promotes healthy patterns of cell division and largely eliminates exposures to approximately 180 pesticides known to increase the risk of developmental abnormalities. Furthermore, this combination of reducing pesticide exposure and consuming nutrient-dense organic foods can help people manage weight and prevent diabetes.

“The conscious decision to purchase organic food to improve one’s health, or the health of family members, is a critical first step that millions of individuals have decided to take,” said Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., co-author of the report and the chief scientist at TOC. “Often this first step is the hardest. As a nation, we need to encourage and reward people taking this and other steps toward a healthier diet.”

The report reveals that an organic diet before and during pregnancy can help the fetus develop a healthy endocrine system, which regulates metabolism and tissue function. Children and adults with healthy endocrine systems have an easier time managing their weight and blood sugar levels and are less likely to combat obesity and diabetes in life. However, exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in life’s earliest stages — including pesticides used in conventional farming methods — can upset the child’s development and create health problems later on.

“When I started my practice, it was unusual to see a child with high blood pressure, high blood glucose and triglycerides, and/or increased waist size,” said Alan Greene, M.D., a leading pediatrician and board member of The Organic Center. “But today, about two-thirds of U.S. teens already have at least one of these middle age conditions that predispose children to metabolic syndrome later in life.”

Currently, two out of three American adults are overweight or obese, and if current trends continue, the vast majority will be overweight by 2048. To combat this alarming trend, the report suggests a new model for health and well-being at every age: an organic Mediterranean-style diet high in fiber and vegetable proteins and low in carbohydrates, meats and saturated fats. With organic fruits, vegetables and grains that contain, on average, 30% higher levels of antioxidants than their conventional counterparts, people at all life stages – from pre-natal health to elder years – can take important steps to promote their well-being.

Study co-authors, Christine McCullum-Gomez, Ph.D. and Richard Theuer, Ph.D., highlight two key conclusions, “Breastfeeding your baby for at least six months and adopting a Mediterranean diet, based on whole grains, vegetables, dried beans, olive oil, garlic, fresh herbs, seafood and fruit, will help keep you and your children on the right path to good health.”

TOC has previously published reports on the nutritional benefits of organic food, including last spring‘s “New Evidence Confirms the Nutritional Superiority of Plant-based Organic Foods,” among others. Pesticide residue in food has been found to accumulate in children’s bodies, while more research has show organic produce to offer health benefits. Find out how to support the transition to organic production and consumption and learn more about Beyond Pesticides’ organic program page.

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2 Responses to “Review Highlights Organic Benefits to Fetal and Child Development”

  1. 1
    maria benedetti Says:

    We are interested in receiving more information: scientific evidence supporting the importance of organics. i will use this to help educate agronomists and others in PUerto Rico who believe that without chemicals, the world will starve. Many thanks.

  2. 2
    John Gregory Says:

    One thing I’ve learned is that organic food is good for many things and just as for adults as well. I’ve changed my diet to eating only organic food and my GERD symptoms have really started to disappear recently.
    I can understand though why pesticide is even more harmful in kids, considering that their system is still so weak and susceptible to all sorts of illnesses, much more so than us, adults.

    John

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