Chemical exposures

Is it safe to take antidepressants while breastfeeding?

breastfed newborn

There are several posts on this site about mental health and anxiety, because this is a subject that impacts so many of us, which in turn impacts our children. But we haven’t discussed a part of mental health that is unfortunately more taboo in our society: Antidepressant use. Since I want to focus on one of the more common antidepressants, I’ll focus mostly on Zoloft and breastfeeding.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little nervous to be talking about my own journey with antidepressant use for all the internet to see. But I know that when I was grappling with starting to use one, I would have liked to find an article like this. Plus, the stigma won’t go away if we don’t start to open up. So I’ll start with me.

And to provide you the most helpful information I can, I’ll also add in some of the science of how antidepressants work and how they affect breastfed babies. Heck, I’ll even talk about what it’s like to begin taking an antidepressant. (Side note: I am not a medical doctor. I have a PhD in chemistry and extensive education on people’s exposure to toxic chemicals, but that is not the same thing as a medical doctor and this post is not intended as medical advice.) Here goes…


Continue Reading

Are GMOs dangerous?

baby eating solids

Let’s start by discussing what a genetically modified organism (GMO) is.  Most of the time, we’re talking about food crops when we discuss GMOs.  In genetically modified organisms, a gene causing a desirable trait is taken from one organism and “plugged in” to another, so that the resulting plant has the trait we want. (more…)

Dangers of teething meds

Teething sucks.  There, I said it.

And it basically never ends, right?  From when they’re about six months old (earlier, if you’re unlucky!) until they’re at least two and a half, there’s always a tooth that’s about to come through, a tooth coming through, or at tooth that just came through.

On the plus side, you always have an excuse for whatever socially-unacceptable behavior your child exhibits (Oh, sorry he doesn’t want to go to you, Auntie Em, he’s teething).

Teething means that for at least two years, you can be woken up any night, at any time, any number of times, by a crying, fussing baby.  And sleepy parents are not happy parents.  So we’re desperate to just make it stop.  Which means we’re susceptible to endless marketing aiming to get us to buy whatever might get them to just go to sleep.

With this in mind, we’ll look at several remedies, both currently in use and recently pulled from US shelves, and determine what can be helpful, what isn’t helpful, and what is potentially harmful. Continue Reading

What is chlorpyrifos and how can it hurt my child?

organic fruit

In part I of this post, we talked about how to protect your kids from pesticides in foods.  That’s about to get easier for us!

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you may have heard that it has been mandated that the US bans chlorpyrifos.  Whether you know it or not, this is fantastic news for all of us, but especially children!  As someone who has actually done research on this pesticide during my Ph.D. work, let me explain why.

Chlorpyrifos is one of many pesticides in the organophosphate class.  Originally, organophosphates (OPs) weren’t pesticides, they were nerve agents developed by the Germans during WWII (ever heard of Sarin?).  After the war, OPs were tamed a little by changing their chemical structures, and they began to be used as pesticides.

We used them unchecked for decades both on crops and as pest control in homes and lawns.  In the 90’s, we realized we needed to update regulations on pesticides, so the Food Quality Protection Act of 1996 was instated.  This law required that, in order for pesticides to be allowed, there needed to be “reasonable certainty of no harm” and it called for a special focus on children’s health, since children are more susceptible to pesticides than adults.  (more…)

Food choices to avoid pesticides

Baby-led weaning

We have to eat, and we have to feed our kids, right?  That means all of us are concerned about food.  In fact, one mother recently wrote into me, asking,

Toxins in foods is a topic I would like more information on.

Do I have to buy organic? The mom guilt over serving canned veggies over cooked from scratch is real (But they have to be better than fast food, right? – I hope).

…Just some of the questions that run through my mind on a semi-regular basis.  Are there easy and inexpensive ways to insure our food is safe? (more…)

Health concerns and sunscreen choices

Are sunscreens safe?

We’re all aware of the risks associated with too much sun exposure, including  sunburn and skin cancer.  Several people have asked me about sunscreen ingredients and what sunscreens are safest.

I remember General Leia’s first Easter.  It was only April, but we lived in Georgia at the time, so it was already pretty warm.

After church, there was an Easter egg hunt, so our little family stayed (at nine months, Leia would curiously pick up an egg if you placed her right in front of it, so that’s “hunting” Easter eggs, right?).

She was wearing a little sweet dress with straps, and I remember being surprised when she had a sunburn after only an hour or two in April.  I felt so awful about it.

But people also worry whether sunscreen is safe! So what do you do, short of staying inside all the time (which is also not the best idea)? Read below for more on sunscreen safety.

Continue Reading