June 15, 2007

Ottawa and Toronto: In a report released for Father’s Day, the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and Environment urges greater awareness among parents, especially fathers, about environmental risks to boys.

“All children are at risk from exposure to environmental hazards, but boys appear to be at greater risk,” said Dr. Lynn Marshall, with the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

The report summarizes the evidence about environmental risks to boys. “For health outcomes such as asthma, cancer, learning and behavioural problems and birth defects, the boys are faring worse than the girls,” noted Loren Vanderlinden, with Toronto Public Health.

We know that the time of greatest vulnerability for children is in the womb. It appears that boys are even more vulnerable than girls during these critical developmental stages. Brain development in boys is of particular concern. “Four times more boys than girls are affected by autism and ADHD. Boys are also at increased risk for learning disabilities, Tourette’s syndrome, cerebral palsy and dyslexia,” noted Kathleen Cooper, with the Canadian Environmental Law Association.

The report summarizes what is known about environmental links to health outcomes in children, noting the many areas of uncertainty. Given the risks of lifelong impacts, it is better to be safe than sorry. Like CPCHE’s other educational materials, the CPCHE Father’s Day report seeks to raise public awareness. Fathers and all members of society can take action to reduce or prevent environmental or occupational exposures that can affect a fetus or child.

The full 16-page report, and a 4-page summary are linked below.

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For more information:

Kathleen Cooper, Senior Researcher, Canadian Environmental Law Association  705-324-1608
Loren Vanderlinden, Supervisor, Environmental Health Assessment & Policy, Environmental Protection Office, Toronto Public Health  416-338-8094
Dr. Lynn Marshall, co-chair, Environmental Health Committee, Ontario College of Family Physicians  905-845-3462