Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Healthcare workers can help reduce impacts of environmental pollution: Experts

New analysis calls for more proactive role of reproductive health specialists
Doctors can help produce healthier future generations.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) say that Ob-gyns could play a major role in reducing the effects of toxic chemicals on women and babies.

They could do this with a multifaceted approach:

  • Evaluating patients’ environmental exposures to chemicals
    This includes occupational exposures to chemicals and solvents
  • Providing education
    How to reduce exposure to chemicals at home, in the community and at work
    This information could be incorporated into childbirth classes, distributed through brochures and fliers and personal consultations
  • Help in implementing broader strategies to influence government policy
    Work with professional organizations to bring about policy change and within their institutions for better food models, for example
    Air pollution is a big risk that cannot be controlled on the individual level

Every individual is exposed to a wide range of natural and synthetic chemicals, and the number has risen dramatically over the past 70 years, the researchers say.

Environmental pollution a widespread problem

Virtually all pregnant women in the US carry multiple chemicals, including some that had been banned since the 1970s and others that can be found in common household products like non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products.

The problem is that more and more studies show that even low exposures to environmental chemicals can affect reproductive and developmental health.

The chemicals are a particular concern before and during pregnancy, when exposures have been linked to a number of health problems, the researchers say.

Just by making patients aware and talking about certain risk factors and ways to reduce exposure could help produce healthier future generations.

The researchers warned that the majority of chemicals used for commercial purposes enter the marketplace without being tested or standardized, and they could be very harmful for fetuses and infants in the developing stages.

Source: UCSF

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