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Breathe Easy: Tips for Making Your Home Safe For Baby

By Lindsay Pinchuk

As you prepare for the arrival of a new baby, (or are already juggling your way into motherhood), chances are you’ve spent some time planning the nursery, researching the kinds of foods your should feed infant and searching for the types of skincare products safe enough for a baby’s skin. There’s plenty to be vigilant about when it comes to caring for your loved ones, but there are always new hidden dangers brought to light by the latest scientific research. Luckily, there are also solutions to some of these dangers – and these can have lasting effects on a baby’s future health.
One such hidden danger — recently garnering a close watch from environmental groups is the quality of the air we breathe – both indoors and out. While necessary legislation, like the Clean Air Act in the U.S. or the global Paris Climate Agreement, has focused on cleaning up the air outside, we are only beginning to understand how indoor air quality affects our bodies and minds. Indoor pollution, coming from coal-burning stoves, paints, and trapped air, has been linked to ‘sick building syndrome’ and even cancer risk. As buildings became more energy efficient, the air flow inside became constricted, leading to stifled air. Think of a stuffy room – it makes you want to open a window right away! Of course, opening a window will bring in outside air, which varies in levels of pollutants.
A study on pregnant women living in Boston (a relatively clean city) found women exposed to even small amounts of air pollution had a risk developing intrauterine inflammation, especially during the first trimester. Intrauterine inflammation is one of the leading causes of premature birth, which occurs in about 10% of babies born in the United States, and 13% of African-American births. Babies born prematurely can have lifelong developmental problems, including autism and asthma. Babies spend most of their time indoors and breathe more air per body weight than adults. Thankfully, there are some strategies to keep your baby’s lungs happy and healthy.
During Pregnancy

  1. Renovate the nursery with lots of ventilation during the second trimester. Use paints, glues and furniture without excess toxins.
  2. Plan ahead, ideally before pregnancy. The most common way to get lead in the body is from dust. Lead dust comes from deteriorating lead-based paint and lead-contaminated soil that gets tracked into your home during renovation. You may want to renovate an older home before pregnancy and always wear a protective mask.
  3. Walk in nature. Even a small city park can do wonders for our health. Trees release chemicals that can boost our immunity, while green spaces help filter out air pollutants and decrease the temperature.
  4. Snack on dark chocolate. Really! Your chocolate cravings may also protect your cells from excess inflammation that air pollution triggers.

After Baby Arrives

  1. Clean surfaces with non-toxic substances like castile soap, baking soda or vinegar to avoid inhaling harsh cleaning fumes.
  2. Keep carpets and upholstery free of dust and mites by vacuuming frequently or washing in hot water.
  3. Invest in an air purifier to regulate invisible pollutants and clear them from your home.
  4. Ventilate your home while you cook and keep baby away from burning stoves or candles.

We know caring for a baby begins in the womb. With a few simple strategies, you can breathe easy knowing your baby is getting the pure, clean air we all deserve.

Dr. Claudia Aguirre is a neuroscientist and mind-body expert, specializing in the connection between the brain and skin. During her graduate studies, she examined the relationship between air pollution and brain inflammation linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Aguirre is a TED speaker, a TED Educator and consults internationally in the health and wellness industries. This is a blog post produced in partnership with Dyson, a global technology company striving to reinvent things that should simply work better. Learn more by visiting dyson.com.

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