Healthy Environment, Healthy Child

Trusted health information in easy to use mobile format

Parents say they are concerned about environmental health threats, yet most pediatric care providers don’t offer prevention strategies during office visits. Why?  Many providers report that they feel ill-equipped to educate families about common exposures. Now, the new FREE Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit (PEHT) mobile application, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), provides this trusted information.

We know that health care providers can play an important role in changing patterns of patient behavior. With the new Toolkit app, you can access simple ways to incorporate anticipatory guidance on environmental health during well child visits.  Easily view, on any mobile device or computer, evidence-based overviews on health hazards related to air, water, food and products.  Quickly scroll to anticipatory guidance you can offer patients keyed to age, from prenatal through teen years, on topics from how to avoid toxicants in the home to healthy eating practices.

The Toolkit application provides examples of how and where we live, eat, sleep, work, and play can impact our health, and what we can do about it. Beginning in the womb and continuing throughout life, multiple environmental factors are strong determinants of health, even decades later, making it ever more important to provide the most current and scientifically-based advice to patients on how to have healthy families. Research shows that parents are anxious to have this information. Now, the Toolkit makes it easy for clinicians to provide.

Three key sections cover the basics:

  • Briefs of environmental hazardsto health found in the air, water, food and consumer products;  includes sections on health effects, routes of exposure and prevention strategies.

Example: Water pollutant routes of exposure:

Exposure can occur through drinking, formula preparation, and cooking water, but also inhalation of volatile compounds and radon gas during bathing and showering. Exposure can also occur through swimming and other recreational activities. Inhalation or dermal exposures via showering/bathing can be significant.

  • Key concepts including the unique vulnerability of children, how the chemical, built and food environments influence health, and environmental justice.

Example: Workers can carry harmful residues home on their clothes, shoes, bodies, and tools. Storage of work chemicals at home, such as industrial cleaning products, can also expose children and other family members to toxicants. Physicians can protect their pediatric patients by taking occupational and hobby histories of parents and caregivers, and offering appropriate recommendations.

  • Anticipatory guidance keyed to thirteen age groups from prenatal through teen years.

Example: at 12 months:

Healthy eating habits: 5-6 portions fruits, vegetables daily. Limit junk food, processed/high fat food. Avoid fish high in mercury, PCBs/dioxins while maintaining the nutritional benefits of fish; heed local fishing advisories. Refer to Mercury Prevention strategies.

Lead Exposure:Screen all children with a blood lead test at 1 year of age and again at 2 years. “At risk” children may need to be screened earlier, and more frequently.

TV:AAP recommends no TV for children 2 or younger. Encourage physical activity and active play.

Want to dig deeper? Check out the trusted resources and references with links such as to the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units who you can contact for help to answer your questions about environmental health issues.

“Like the ‘pocket guides’ of the past, this new web-based reference is at your fingertips on your mobile device.  You can feel confidence in the concise information and guidance provided as it was created and peer-reviewed by experts in the field nationwide,” says Dr. Nick Newman, a pediatrician and the Medical Director of the Pediatric Environmental Health and Lead Clinic in Cincinnati. “It is also free of charge and without advertising so there is no reason not to download it and use it.”

The PEHT app is a joint project between the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units and Physicians for Social Responsibility. It is based on material in the AAP “Green Book.”

Also available: Free PEHT online course offered for free Continuing Education credit through the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Created by: PSR - Physicians for Social Responsibility PEHSU

Endorsed by:         American Academy of Pediatrics