While acute illness management is improving, our children are getting more and more riddled with chronic disease. Just 50 years ago, it was rare for multiple children in a classroom to have any type of food allergy, asthma, or other chronic illness. By stark contrast, as reported in Dr. Michelle Perro’s book, as of 2017, 1 in 2.5 children has an allergy, 1 in 9 has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 1 in 13 children has a severe food allergy (1). The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 children has a developmental disability and 1 in 11 children has asthma. As of 2018, 1 in 40 children has autism, and this number has been exponentially increasing since 1992 (2,3).
The rapid increase in chronic disease among children is not a result of genetics, as genes do not change at this pace. Instead, the cause is likely environmental and multifactorial. One such cause can include exposure to unnatural and toxic chemicals, beginning at conception. The Environmental Working Group did a study in 2004, which showed that of 10 babies studied, there were 287 different chemicals found in their placentas, many of which are proven brain and nervous system toxins and cause cancer(4). Although this may sound dismal, there are many measures we can take to try to minimize our exposures and increase our clearance of many of these chemicals.
Additionally, since 1990, caesarean sections has increased from 6% to 21% of births, according to a 2018 study in The Lancet (5). There are short and long-term health consequences to children born of c-sections, namely, altered immune systems, increased rates of asthma, atopy (eczema), allergies, childhood obesity and decreased gut microbial diversity (6). Thankfully there are many strategies to improve health outcomes of a children born by c-section. For example, giving probiotics and other nutritional supplements like vitamin D help build a proper microbiome and immune systems.
These are just some examples of interventions used to help children overcome chronic illness and prevent others from occurring. Simple interventions, like eating organic, fermented, and nourishing whole foods, and healing gut inflammation can make a profound difference in the health of children. Fortunately, children are very resilient, and have great hope in the face of illness.