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Environmental risks.

The developing fetus and newborn are at their most vulnerable point of development. Childbirth educators are a trusted resource for childbearing families, and we have a responsibility of being knowledgeable about local and global threats to prenatal health and fostering change in our own communities.

As holistic nurses and educators we recognize that the total human we are serving comes with an interconnectedness of the mind, body, spirit, emotions, social/ cultural context within an environment that is constantly interacting with all levels of their being. When considering the health of the childbearing family, the environment is certainly relevant and the focus of this issue of the journal.

Exposure to toxins have the potential to negatively influence normal cellular and tissue development and function. Teratogens are outside agents that influence the developing fetus in a negative way. Exposure to lead, mercury, and tobacco have been studied but there are thousands of chemicals whose effect on health is not known. What toxins are inherent in your communities and influence the health of those you serve? What is the effect of toxic work environments and toxic relationships on health and pregnancy? What resources are available for families exposed to violence, pollution, trauma, stress, or other toxins? We, as childbirth educators, assume the responsibility for evidenced-based knowledge to be transferred to preventative care for the family. We are advocates for change and healthy choices.

Childbirth educators can be a healing presence, creating an environment of acceptance, empowerment, and social responsibility as we bring caring and healing back into damaged health care systems throughout the world. Concern for the environment is more than learning about pollution. It is choosing to personally transform our own consciousness and step up to the responsibility of caring for our earth. We know that our charge is not just to get babies delivered safely, rather it is about developing strong and competent families who can be empowered to trust that they will know what is best and demand the healthiest environment for their child.

This issue brings in expertise from Dr. Buchanan, guest editor, whose work is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. She brings an overview of environmental issues of concern to those who care for the pregnant woman and her baby. Articles on air pollution, mercury exposure, toxoplasmosis, the sleep environment, and domestic violence address the influence of the environment of the childbearing family.

We are grateful for the authors and reviewers who have contributed their time and work for this special issue on the environment. We are grateful to you, the reader, for taking on the responsibility of ensuring families are empowered with the knowledge to make the best choices for themselves. It is our hope that this special issue of the International Journal of Childbirth Education will stimulate continued interest, research, and strategies for prevention of exposure to toxins of all types that exist in our environment.



by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD MSN RN IBLCLC AHN-BC

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Title Annotation:The Editor's Perspective; fetus and newborn infants
Author:Wilson, Debra Rose
Publication:International Journal of Childbirth Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2013
Previous Article:Dropping the Baby and Other Scary Thoughts.
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