Twin Studies on Autism: Less Genetic, More Womb Environment
August 2, 2011 · Posted in Autism, Parenting, The Environment · Permalink · Comments Off on Twin Studies on Autism: Less Genetic, More Womb Environment
A recent study conducted by Joachim Hallmayer, M.D., from Stanford University School of Medicine, indicates that contrary to the common belief that Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is chiefly inherited, the prenatal environment seems to play a larger role.The study, which looked specifically at identical vs. non-identical twins, showed that non-identical twins, or dizygotic twins, who do not share the exact same genetic material, were highly likely to both have ASD. This was a very thorough and stringent research model, the first to “include structured clinical assessments by both parental interview and direct child observation, which is the contemporary standard for establishing the diagnosis of autism or ASD”.

Ramifications of this study are profound. Most money for autism research is directed towards understanding underlying genetic factors. This study shows that research into the womb environment is critical. Genetics are unchangeable, but if we can identify toxins in the womb we can hopefully change the rising trend of autism.

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Safe Products for You and Your Children
July 5, 2011 · Posted in Parenting, Social Action, The Environment · Permalink · Comments Off on Safe Products for You and Your Children


Talk about unsafe!  Women use an average of 12 beauty products containing more than 125 unique chemicals every morning before they walk out the door, every day. (1) Even worse: Only 11% of chemicals in personal care products in the U.S. have been assessed for safety.

It’s so frustrating. You do everything you can to protect your family from toxic chemicals. Yet every time you wash your hair, or brush your teeth, the products you use may expose you to chemicals linked to cancer, learning disabilities, and infertility. Even products that claim to be “Natural,” “Herbal,” or “Organic” can’t be trusted, since there is no legal definition for any of these terms. (2)

Enough is enough! It’s time to give the cosmetics industry a much needed makeover.

*Urge your U.S. House members to support the Safe Cosmetics Act now!

Today, Congressional leaders reintroduced the federal Safe Cosmetics Act in the House of Representatives. This bill (H.R.2359) would give the FDA the authority it needs to ensure that personal care products are free of harmful substances like lead, 1,4-dioxane and chemicals linked to cancer.

Of the 12,000 ingredients used in personal care products, only 8 have been banned since cosmetics legislation first passed in 1938. “Companies say, ‘We do a lot of testing.’ But they’re looking for short-term effects like a rash,” said Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “They’re not looking at long-term health effects like cancer risk.”(3)

The existing law, which has not been updated in 70 years, allows companies to use toxic chemicals in products we use on our bodies every day. We know that the U.S. can do better to protect our families and to remain a world leader in the marketplace!

Urge your U.S. House members to co-sponsor the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2011.

P.S. Wondering how to reduce your family’s exposure to this type of toxic chemicals? Check out our top six safer beauty tips:

P.P.S. To learn more about the cosmetics industry, here’s “The Story of Cosmetics,” a fantastic video by our friends at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

[1] Smith, Rick and Lourie, Bruce. Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Secret Dangers of Everyday Things. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 2010.

[2] Campaign for Safe Cosmetics:

[3] The Dark Side of Beauty:

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Kids and Meds- “We’ve Got Issues”
February 25, 2010 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Mental Health, Parenting, Pressure on Children, The Environment, Therapy · Permalink · Comments (1)


Judith Warner, author and columnist on parenting issues, has just published We’ve Got Issues: Children and Parents In The Age of Medication. She began her project with the commonly held mindset that children are over-medicated through a collusion between parents, who want their childrens’ behavior to change, and psychiatrists, who are more than happy to whip out the prescription pad.  What Warner discovered, and what our experience at Soho Parenting has been over the last two decades, is actually the opposite. Parents go through excruciating conflict, ambivalence and worry about using medication with their children who are suffering from a psychiatric or neuro- biological illness.

Contrary to the “over-medication” hype, parents often have a hard time accepting that their child’s symptoms are an indication of a serious departure from typical development. When a children have depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or autistic spectrum disorder it is unbearably painful to accept. Decisions to use medicine to treat, or ameliorate symptoms is a huge choice.  The known risk of leaving these problems untreated sometimes feels less risky than taking medicine. This is often the wrong call.

In our clinical practice, we have seen a rise of developmental delays as well as a rise in mood disorders, behavioral and emotional struggles in children. The causes are most likely multi-determined. The impact of toxins in our food supply and environment, the unhealthy pressured culture our children must conform to, and the marriage of genetics in parents who also may struggle with significant levels of anxiety and depression all lead to more vulnerable systems in our children.

Having this awareness allows parents to make healthier choices about their lifestyles and practice preventative care.  Acknowledgment that your child struggles with mood or reactivity issues is necessary to fight stigma, advocate for kids and to counter the feelings of failure that parents and children alike experience if these issues arise. Treating such childhood problems with effective therapies, and yes, many times, with medicine, can be the difference between utter suffering and a calmer, more productive and functional experience for affected children, their siblings and parents.

In almost 25 years we have met only one family that seemed blithe about using medicine to maintain a child’s enrollment in a high pressured and “prestigious” school.  All other parents have approached the diagnosis, starting therapy, and possibly medicating their children as a truly serious decision–usually leaning toward under-treating. The stories of children being helped by a combination of therapy and medicine abound. The relief and hopefulness is always tempered by worry over the long-term effects, but children who need medicine and receive the correct medicine are freed from a dark place. Kudos to Warner for her open-minded research, her hard work on the book, and her contribution to parents –to help them make the best choices for their children and their families.

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Take Action! Demand Healthy Food For Our Children
January 19, 2010 · Posted in Feeding, Social Action, The Environment · Permalink · Comments (1)

clip_image006Moms focuses on tackling issues that mean most to parents. Here is their latest email blast that makes your voice heard in one click. Please join Soho Parenting in supporting legislation to help our children to have access to healthy food!

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a study on hunger in America. The study highlighted a staggering statistic: 1 in 4 children in our nation are now on the brink of hunger. That’s the highest number since the USDA started keeping track.

Thankfully, legislation was recently introduced to help address this crisis.  The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act would ensure that millions more children across our country have access to healthy foods. How this bill will help: The Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act will strengthen the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) by adding meal or snack options for children who need them, helping cover the cost of more meals for children who are in care for longer hours, and making more child care providers eligible for assistance.

Sadly, passage of this bill isn’t a slam-dunk.  We’ve got to redouble our efforts to end child hunger in America.  Thanks to your 18,000 letters, the U.S. Senate is actively considering this bill, and now the House is poised to consider it as well.  But this fight is just beginning. 1 in 4 children in our nation on the brink of hunger is an emergency. Tell your Representative to support the Access to Nutritious Meals for Young Children Act today.

Follow this link to and urge your Representative to make sure children have access to healthy foods as soon as possible:

Please take another moment to forward this post to your friends and family.  Everyone should have a chance to weigh in urging their Representative to support this crucial bill.  Together, we can help children across our country have a healthy start.


Soho Parenting

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“Trick or Treat” To Feed the Hungry
December 1, 2009 · Posted in Charity Project, K-5 Kids, Parenting, The Environment · Permalink · Comments (1)

CBR001319Parents often ask about age appropriate ways to volunteer or do charity work with their children. This holiday season hunger is at our doorstep. Our country is facing record levels of hunger, and the use of food stamps is climbing each month. Each crisis provides an opportunity for teaching kindness and spiritual growth.

A simple act of charity is a wonderful way to give your child the chance to help out. Locate the nearest shelter or food pantry. Find out if they accept donations of food and whether it can be canned, boxed or fresh. Then take your children to collect items in your building or neighborhood and bring it to your destination. Explain it to your children by relating it to trick or treating. This time you are collecting food for others and not candy for yourselves, but it is essentially the same process! Have a conversation with them, discuss that some people do not have enough food in your town. Reassure them if they get worried that you have more food than you need.  You can go with a group of kids and parents and make it something infused with camaraderie.

PS. A big thank you to all families who participated in Soho Parenting’s “Give a Good Hot Shower” bath products drive for Safe Horizons! They were so happy to accept our donations.

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Protect the Planet – Protect Your Children
October 13, 2009 · Posted in Charity Project, Education, Parenting, The Environment · Permalink · Comments (1)


Here’s the real deal when it comes to protecting and raising our children: They need a healthy planet with clean water, breathable air, safe food and an adjustment in the trajectory of climate change.  These basics are in peril. Truly.

Article upon article, research from all over the globe, are sounding loud alarm bells. Somewhere in our minds we realize this is going on but many of us put it aside because of the pulls from our daily lives.  Diving in and becoming knowledgeable is scary, but staying with our heads in the sand can do nothing to help our childrens’ health and well being. If the voices of parents start to be raised clearly and consistently we can pressure the people with power. Think how strong a parents for the planet lobby could be!

So what can we do? Get informed.  Decide one thing to work on and take a stand.

1. EDUCATE yourself by reading and watching this sampling of books, articles and video.

Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering, The New York Times

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer

The Union of Concerned Scientists Global Warming 101

National Geographic Sate of the Earth Video Series

2. JOIN, a political organization that champions causes that we as parents need to get involved in. Members receive email updates about issues like plastics in baby bottles, paid leave as well as topics related to the environment.

3. READ the paper and WRITE letters to the editor. When the volume gets turned up, more attention is paid.

4. TEACH your children about caring for the planet: recycling, composting, public transportation, turning the lights off. Take on a project with your family. One of the single most influential factors in happiness is altruism. Here are some links to organizations that welcome help:

Environmental Volunteers

The Nature Conservancy

The Volunteer Family

Let’s face it – the kind of life our children will lead relies completely on these issues.

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