Lourdes Salvador's Column
...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.
Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.
Children and Cognitive Health in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
by Lourdes Salvador
Children with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) encounter the same difficulty completing complex information-processing tasks as adults do, according to the University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Cognitive problems are an important symptom of CFS.
Neuropsychological task performance with interference control was tested in a group of adolescents to determine the children’s ability to respond and focus despite interference from interruptions.
As an example, a child might presented with a task to press a button each time a triangle appears while circles also appear in between. A child without CFS would succeed in ignoring the circles and pressing the button only when the triangles appear. However, a child with CFS would exhibit compromised ability to press the button only when triangles appear.
Adolescents with CFS not only experience the same cognitive problems as adults with CFS, but like adults, they are also more fatigued than their counterparts.
The more interference presented, the worse the performance of individuals with CFS. This impairment of information processing is not due to depression or anxiety, indicating a physiological difference. School attendance is associated with reduced physical function, rather than anxiety.
Cognitive impairment includes impaired learning, impaired memory, decreased attention span, mental retardation, and developmental delays. Many toxicants and pollutants in the environment are known for negatively influencing cognitive ability.
According to the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), “Cognitive impairment in children may occur as a result of exposures (to environmental chemicals) in utero or in early childhood during brain development.” Some of these exposures include lead, mercury, fragrance chemicals, household cleaning products, fire retardants, plastics, and other environmental pollution.
There is strong evidence for ethyl alcohol (ethanol), lead, mercury, nicotine, PCBs, and tobacco smoke being linked to cognitive impairment. Pesticides, carbon monoxide, nitrites/nitrates, PCB's, solvents have also been linked to both cognitive difficulties and reduced IQ. These cognitive declines may be permanent and irreversible.
Parents can take measures to reduce the use of fragrances, commercial cleaning products, pesticides, and tobacco smoke in the home by selecting unscented personal care products, eliminating candles, air fresheners, and incense, using alternative methods for pest control that do not involve pesticides, and quitting smoking.
Crawley E, Sterne J. Association between school absence and physical function in paediatric CFS/ME. Arch Dis Child. 2008 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]
Van de Putte EM, Böcker KB, Buitelaar J, Kenemans JL, Engelbert RH, Kuis W, Kimpen JL, Uiterwaal CS. Deficits of Interference Control in Adolescents With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2008;162(12):1196-1197.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2008 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America