Thursday, August 13, 2009

Will Back-To-School Make Your Child Ill?

When the first day of school rolls around, as it soon will for many, last year’s challenges, fears and anxieties can also start again. Many might be concerned about their child’s teachers, classrooms, curriculum, homework, packing lunches, cafeteria foods, allergies, hidden expenses, etc. Some parents will have a definite uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomach. They are worried because last year’s phone calls might begin again. Will your child be too active, too tired, too aggressive, too angry, too abusive, etc.?

All the above can happen but this blog was written to help you cope more effectively with these many types of concerns. See answers below:

Some of this year’s challenges can be old or new and both the pupils and teachers can be affected. Your child also can have some fears and emotional concerns associated with starting in a new or different school. Meeting new students when switching to a new school during the school year can be a challenge for shy children. Get a copy of How To Win Friends and Influence People. It could help many with relationships, at all ages. Have someone discuss one chapter each night during dinner. You will be surprised at how it brings the family together and helps everyone.

• If an old or new school is a problem, you might notice your child is fine when he leaves home but worse during the day. If it is the school bus, it will happen by the time the bus arrives. If it is an accumulation from various school exposures, your child will be worse at the end of the school day and week. If your child always better on week ends, especially by Sunday night and worse again as soon as school starts, it might not be disliking school but something in the school bothering the child.

• The smell of chemicals in recent school construction, renovation and maintenance such as the installation of new smelly toxic carpets, dividers, partitions, insulation, tar on roofs, indoor pest control and outside herbicides or lawn maintenance can cause symptoms. (You can request that the school use non-toxic landscape and lawn chemicals.) Also, the rooms where new materials are used will be the place where your child becomes ill. Always check out any area where your child appears to suddenly become ill or unable to think clearly.
• The odor of some chemicals used for routine cleaning, disinfecting and deodorizing will bother some children. (Some children are sick with asthma or headaches from the chemicals in bathrooms by the time they leave a school toilet.)
• Poor school air quality because of a faulty ventilation system can cause an elevated level of carbon dioxide. This can cause some to get tired, sleepy and they can’t think clearly.)
• Perfume, scented hair products or other personal body products commonly, cause a wide range many symptoms in some allergic individuals.
• The smell of freshly dry-cleaned clothing can trigger symptoms.
• Poor quality water can e a problem is there is no purifier.
• Unclean air because of nearby factory or business pollution, combustion fumes from school busses or cars expressways- Air purifiers will help. Call 1 800 787 8780.
• Are some rooms too dusty or moldy? Does your child feel worse in those rooms?
• If your child is worse right outside school, what is going on outside? If worse inside, where exactly does it happen or is it all over. If localized in one area, why there?

Many of the above chemicals, contaminants and allergenic substances can be found in school air and any of these can affect your children.

When your child starts school, here are some things to look for:
Hyperactivity or extreme fatigue (falls asleep on their desk)
Inability to concentrate, short attention span
Difficulty remembering and learning new things
Poor grades in spite of knowing your child is bright
Mood swings, easy crying, becoming withdrawn.
Headache, recurrent ear infections, flu-like symptoms ( high doses of Vitamin C can help stop recurrent infections but check with your doctor before doing this)
Asthma or other respiratory problems
Inexplicable changes in handwriting or drawing ability
Skin rashes
Dark circles under the eyes
Abnormally red earlobes and cheeks
Wiggly legs
Sudden poor coordination and balance, especially when walking
Sudden aggression, anger or violent behavior
Any other change that your child has not had before or did not have during the summer months.

When any of the above occurs, keep asking what was eaten, touched or smelled that was different? Keep asking, when, where and why do changes occur? Is it in one room or area? Does asthma occur after going into a bathroom or a certain class, or after being in a moldy locker room?

According to research, children are 6 times more vulnerable to indoor air pollutants than adults. Parents need to be more aware to protect their precious children.

The following are a few examples of individuals affected by school air:

On June 18, 2009, a rather windy day, a Rhode Island school was overcome with odors from pesticides sprayed down the street from the school. Classrooms filled with the stench and students began to feel nauseous and faint. One staff member and some students were taken to the hospital for treatment. Parents of the students brought to the hospital were notified, but others found out simply by word of mouth. School officials admitted to not notifying parents because it was felt there was no immediate danger, despite the fact that some students and staff needed immediate medical attention and were sent to a hospital emergency room. The students had to evacuate the playground during recess because of the chemical fumes. All of this was caused by one neighbor a few doors from the school who sprayed toxic pesticides on their lawn.

Alice was 14 years old and had extreme reactions to paper in new books or fresh newsprint, perfume, scented detergents, asphalt and lawn chemicals. When she was exposed, she babbled incoherently, became giddy, made strange baby talk sounds, and walked and acted in a most inappropriate manner. These exposures caused her to speak and think unclearly and interfered with her ability to learn and remember. A special education teacher decided to compare and evaluate Alice’s academic performance when she was in a clean room without odors to an area in which she smelled perfume. She found on two different tests that Alice's age performance dropped more than a year after simply smelling perfume. In addition, she had a dramatic mood change, began to whine, her voice became high pitched, she had difficulty walking normally and would no longer follow directions.

Nancy, a teacher:
Nancy was sensitive to dust, molds, perfume and phenol, which is in school disinfectants. The smell of perfume could make her so confused that she couldn’t think or remember, and at times she would laugh uncontrollably and develop tics and twitches. One little girl in her room had exactly the same symptoms and the teacher quickly recognized the symptoms and helped detect the causes.

This 17-year-old boy developed tics and twitches after being exposed to the smell of hot tar on the school roof. He became pale, nauseated and had headaches. He would make strange sounds. Different areas of his body would twitch and jerk. Others in the school also became sick from the odor.

John returned to school one fall after they had extensively remodeled and installed new carpeting. He began to complain of his nose, tight chest, dizziness, headaches, nausea and hives. His feet and joints ached, his ears felt full and his voice was weak. He had a funny taste in his mouth and tingling in his fingers and lips. His muscles ached and he had dark circles and cramps. His arms and legs became progressively numb and tingly. By the end of the school day, he had double vision. It was noticed within 1 to 4 hours after leaving school, or when he was on vacation in the summer or during school holidays, his symptoms improved, and within a few hours after he entered the school building, his symptoms recurred. When he was tested with allergy extract made from air in his school, he quickly developed droopy eyes, extreme fatigue and abdominal pain. An x-ray image showed changes in his brain. In a cleaner school environment, his school work improved which suggests that his brain also became better.

Once the causes of the above children’s symptoms were detected and eliminated, the children and the teachers all improved dramatically.

If your child suddenly becomes ill, acts inappropriately or can’t learn at school, go there and find out why. What was eaten, touched or smelled? How and where did it happen? If you can figure out why and eliminate the cause, you can save your child and the teacher and yourself lots of grief, worry and concern.

1. If the problem is dust, mold, pollen or chemicals, call 1 800 787 8780. There is an air purifier that takes out more chemicals than most. They all take out most of the typical allergenic substances. You can return it within one month ( for shipping and restocking fee) if it does not help. They come on wheels.
2. There is a simple one week diet that costs you less than $20 for the book and endless tips. You will know within 5-7 days if a food is your child’s problem. Tens of thousands (no exaggeration) have read the book and been helped. The book is Is This Your Child’s World (and your world too). The answers are practical- fast, easy, effective and if possible also inexpensive.

For more details:
Check out my website, and my book entitled, Is This Your Child’s World, as well as the DVD, Environmentally Sick Schools. It will clearly demonstrate how affected children can change. See how the smell of a new synthetic school carpet causes a mouse to become paralyzed in three hours and die in four . Watch You Tube: search for Dr. Rapp, Donahue. Also watch for “Rapping with Rapp,” and “Mom, Its Not Your Fault” during the coming months. Much about typical and the frequently missed forms of allergy will discussed and shown.

There is a world of practical, inexpensive tips to help you find the answers you need so your child can reach his/her full potential. Unsuspected environmental illness and allergies have ruined the lives of many children. Greater awareness can turn it all around.

Doris J. Rapp, M.D.