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Pregnancy and Toxins


Falling pregnant is usually an exciting time in a woman’s life, and many women do all they can to stay healthy during this time. We are aware that the things we eat can have a negative effect on our unborn baby. When you fall pregnant, the doctor will give you a list of foods to avoid, such as soft cheeses, raw seafood, and cold meats. We also know it is harmful to smoke or drink while pregnant as these drugs have a negative impact on the fetus. Unfortunately, even after all that, there is still danger to the pregnant woman—chemicals in our everyday life.

In 2011 a study was done by USCF. 268 pregnant women took part, and chemicals were found in 99% of women tested. This horrifying data proves that we are exposed to harmful chemicals in our every-day lives, even when we don’t realise it.

“The study tested for 163 chemicals. Some of the toxic chemicals detected were: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate in 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women. Among the chemicals found in the study group were PBDEs, compounds used as flame retardants now banned in many states including California, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an organochlorine pesticide banned in the United States in 1972,” (Rush-Monroe, 2011).

Many of these chemicals have been linked to birth defects. BPA, for example, which is found on the inside of cans, and leaches out of plastic when it is heated, was found in 96% of women tested. According to researchers, prenatal exposure to BPA has been linked to adverse health effects in brain development and an increased susceptibility to cancer later in life.

Researchers were not only worried about how each chemical may affect unborn babies, but what affect multiple chemicals have. Some of the toxic chemicals have been banned for many years—DDT for example—but many exist in products we are around all the time, including plastics, adhesives and furniture.

This study indicates further research needs to be carried out. If you want to avoid as many of these chemicals as you can, avoid chemical cleaning products, pesticides, paints and varnishes, canned food (unless it is BPA free), even new cars, mattresses and furniture. Refer to our article on VOCs—harmful gases emitted into the air in our homes and offices from items in our homes, such as carpet and paint. One of the listed chemicals, perfluorinated compounds, are found in grease-proof food packaging (think pizza boxes), Teflon coating, shampoo and it used to be in Scotchguard. Another chemical group, Phenols, are thought to cause breast cancer and are an endocrine disruptor. This chemical is used in resins in plywood, it is in BPA and is used to make synthetic fibres which are then used to make clothes.
These examples of only three of the many chemicals listed above show that we are surrounded by dangerous substances all the time. Try and limit buying new furniture, cars or carpet while you are pregnant, to further reduce the impact of these toxins on your unborn child. Hopefully more research will be done soon and these chemicals will be omitted from the products we will buy in the future. For more information visit the USCF Study. 

What do you think?