Few pediatricians receive training in environmental health, yet accumulating research shows that a disproportionate burden of exposure from environmental toxicants (man-made contaminants) is borne by children, adolescents, and the developing fetus. This is explained in part because of children׳s vulnerability to environmental-toxicants based on socioeconomic status, body surface area, metabolism, and potential transfers via placenta and breast milk. Public concern about toxicants affecting children in air, land, water, food, and beverages places pediatricians in the challenging position of being expected to knowledgably answer questions about environmental exposures while lacking sufficient training in the field. Surveys show pediatricians have high interest in environmental topics, yet feel a low sense of self-efficacy regarding patient education and lack evidence-based treatment guidelines and other effective educational tools. The goal of this article is to provide an overview of selected toxicants relevant to pediatric health, review practical suggestions to reduce or eliminate children's exposures, and introduce resources for taking an environmental health history to better prepare pediatricians and other clinicians caring for children to decrease harmful exposures in infants, children, and adolescents.
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