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Environmental Causes of Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders



For many years, autism research has focused on genetic factors. But researchers estimate that "the total fraction of ASD attributable to genetic inheritance may be about 30–40%." Now many are calling for more extensive research of environmental factors, including the tens of thousands of untested chemicals that individuals are exposed to via consumer products as well as the environment at large (air, water, soil). The brains of embryos and fetuses are believed to be especially susceptible to toxic chemicals. A workshop of leading researchers convened by the Mount Sinai Children's Environmental Health Center, with support from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and Autism Speaks, generated a list of "10 chemicals and mixtures widely distributed in the environment that are already suspected of causing developmental neurotoxicity":

Do You Live in One of the Most Polluted U.S. Cities?

See a larger version of this infographic here.

I've spent 27 years of my life in cities that rank in the worst ten U.S. cities for air pollution. I don't live in one of the worst 10 now, but my current area earns an "F" for Ozone and Particle Pollution. 

Check the air quality ratings for your city here.
Read about how to protect yourself from the health risks of air pollution here.
Read facts about air quality here.
Read the key findings from the State of the Air Report 2012 here.
Read the full report State of the Air 2012 by American Lung Association here.

Most importantly, tell your representatives to stand up to big oil and fight for clean air here.

The Green Phone Booth: Homemade Snacks Linky



Today at the Green Phone Booth I posted a Link Up for homemade snacks. If you have a favorite homemade snack recipe or idea, please link up your blog post or leave the recipe in the comments. My post also includes several of posts from the archives of the Green Phone Booth about snacks, including simple ideas for easy, unprocessed, kid-friendly snacks, as well as recipes for homemade fish crackers, English muffins, and bagels.

Click here to read the post.

My 5-month-old Baby Uses the Potty

Happy Earth Day last Sunday!

For 4 of the last 5 days, I have put my 5-month-old baby on the potty first thing in the morning. And all 4 times she has both peed and pooped (sometimes an incredible amount). Of course I make my "pssss" and "uh uh uh" cue sounds when she does. So we are having some success. I'm smart enough to know that it won't necessarily be smooth sailing from here out. I'm just trying to be happy that wiping her bottom has been so very simple during this past week.

That Works for Me! (e-book Giveaway and Review)



Every Wednesday hundreds of bloggers link up a post about what works for them at the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival hosted by Kristen Welch of the blog We Are That Family. I'm guessing it's the biggest blog carnival around. It's been going on for years. You may have noticed that at the bottom of some of my posts is a little blurb that reads "This post is part of...Works for Me Wednesday." If you've ever clicked on that link, you've visited the WFMW blog carnival.

Whenever I submit a post to the carnival I like to browse the titles of the other linked-up posts, and every week I find some treasures. But with hundreds of submissions each week, obviously I'm not able to peruse all the submissions and I'm probably missing out on some good ones. Wouldn't it be amazing and terribly useful if someone were to go through all of those posts, identify the choicest gems, and compile and organize them into a handy e-book? You guessed it. Someone has.

How I Shop for Food

A week's worth of produce from the farmers market

First you should know that one of my principal aims in life, now that I have three little ones, is to never set foot in a real store. I never loved shopping, and now with kids, I find that I really don't like it.  You should also know that I am willing to spend a significant amount of money on food. Maybe not more than the average household of five, since we rarely eat out, consume little meat, cook many things from scratch, and do other things that help lower our food bill.  But we try to eat mostly local organic foods, which can be expensive.

I aim to purchase most of our groceries from local organic farmers for a number of reasons: to provide my family with delicious fresh foods; to avoid eating weird things; to promote animal welfare and environmental health; to prevent the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria; and to support my local food economy. But I'm not a purist. While some items are non-negotiable for me (I will not buy conventional beef or eggs), about other things I am flexible. I'll occasionally buy a conventional watermelon since it's on EWG's Clean Fifteen; I still buy South American bananas even though I enjoy an abundance of local produce here in Northern California; and I sometimes purchase conventional animal products (buttermilk, ice cream, drumsticks) as long as they don't contain any growth hormones. I avoid GMOs (and would like to see them labeled) but don't agonize over them. My shopping priorities change as I learn more, but they are also subject to cost, convenience, and whim. If you are on a tight budget, I think the best thing you can do is cook more at home and learn to garden.

This is how I currently shop for food.

Homemade Chewy (Not Crumbly) Granola Bars



At last, I have found a granola bar recipe that my kids love. Good enough that they don't ask me to buy the Trader Joe's granola bars anymore. Good enough that my husband has stopped putting granola bars on the grocery list. I alternate making granola bars with my whole-grain "cookies," so that I always have a delicious kid-friendly snack that's easy to take and eat on-the-go.

I've been looking for the perfect granola bar recipe for a while. Over a period of many months (years?), I've googled, perused, and bookmarked a gazillion recipes. Then I tried the most promising ones. Some recipe authors admitted that their granola bars were crumbly. I did not want crumbly. After making a few duds, I decided to try Bittman's granola bar recipe (the peanut butter variation) which uses granola, oil, honey, and peanut butter.

Read more (including the recipe) at The Green Phone Booth

Newborn Diaper Stash

Kissaluvs fitted diaper (without cover) on newborn.


The first six months of your baby's life are a great time to try cloth diapers. Here are my favorite cloth diapers for newborns.

Daytime
Kissaluvs size 0 (5-15 pounds) fitted diapers plus 
Waterproof cover (Prorap, Thirsties, or Imse Vimse)

Potty Training a 4-month-old Baby



Yesterday I wrote about how early potty training turned out with my second child, now 2 1/2 years old. I first put her on the potty around 9 months. Today, I'm writing about how I'm starting even earlier with my third baby.

What does early potty training (or elimination communication) look like with a 4-month-old baby? Some folks try to "catch" a newborn's pee by holding a bowl between their knees or holding the baby over the sink or toilet when she needs to pee. I tried that once and decided it wasn't for me. I decided to wait until my baby could pretty comfortably sit on a Baby Bjorn little potty before I would try any pee/poop catching.

Early Potty Training Reprise

Readers who have been faithfully reading my blog for a while may be wondering: what ever happened with the kid I stuck on the potty at 9 months? (She is now 2.5 years old.) Here is a reprise of that potty training experience.