How Are Environmental Risks Affecting Our Pregnancies?

how-are-environmental-risks-affecting-our-pregnancies
Image Via: Jennifer Bruno

I fidgeted in my seat, observing walls plastered with academic achievements and shelves of plastic ovaries and uteri. My husband held my hand as we listened to our OB detail the dos and don’ts of pregnancy. His list was short, yet thorough, and I left feeling empowered to make healthy decisions for the duration of my pregnancy.

I didn’t find it odd that my OB didn’t go into detail about these risks. I mean, there are hundreds,if not thousands of potential environmental risk factors we are are exposed to on a daily basis, and the dangers of these risks are somewhat vague.

I wouldn’t smoke, wouldn’t drink alcohol, change cat litter, inhale large amounts of toxic cleaners and chemicals, and I would eat smoked meats, fish, and unpasteurized cheeses in moderation.

For the most part, I consider myself fairly educated on the dangers of artificially preserved food sources and toxic, unnatural chemicals and pesticides, and strive to achieve a relatively chemical-neutral home. But regardless of how hard I try, exposure to certain environmental risks is unavoidable.

I didn’t find it odd that my OB didn’t go into detail about these risks. I mean, there are hundreds,if not thousands of potential environmental risk factors we are are exposed to on a daily basis, and the dangers of these risks are somewhat vague. The science suggests a range of side effects from short-term birth defects to long-term conditions such as adult cancers. A recent article in Scientific American discusses how a new nationwide survey of 2,600 obstetricians and gynecologists found that most do not warn their pregnant patients about chemicals in food, consumer products, or the environment that could endanger their fetuses. More than half said they don’t warn about mercury, and hardly any of them give advice about lead, pesticides, air pollution, or chemicals in plastics and cosmetics.

Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, MD, PhD, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has recently urged OB/GYNs to advocate for the government to make policy changes that would help identify and reduce exposure risk to many of the toxic chemicals in our society.

A study of 268 pregnant women in 2004 indicated that over 100 different chemicals were found in the women, and 43 of the same chemicals were found in each woman. These findings warranted a need to understand the sources of the chemical exposure as well as the implications of the exposure for the women and their unborn babies. 

Dr. Conry explains, “What we are trying to get is the balance between awareness and alarmist.” In the meantime, experts hope to empower patients to do their own research and make common-sense decisions in regards to limiting exposure to toxins, chemicals, pesticides, and other environmental risks.  

In July 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officially banned the use of BPA (bisphenol A) in making baby bottles and cups; however, the FDA maintains that BPA is safe for widely-used consumer food containers and canned food liners. While many cleaning products are considered safe for pregnancy, many experts agree the testing of these products isn’t sufficient, and the March of Dimes encourages expectant parents to experiment with more natural cleaning products like baking soda and vinegar.

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Encouraging the government to focus on the causes and potential health risks of standard environmental “pollutants” may add stress to pregnant women, and Dr. Conry explains, “What we are trying to get is the balance between awareness and alarmist.” In the meantime, experts hope to empower patients to do their own research and make common-sense decisions in regards to limiting exposure to toxins, chemicals, pesticides, and other environmental risks.  

What precautions outside of the norm have you taken during your pregnancy with environmental factors in mind? 

What do you think?

How Are Environmental Risks Affecting Our Pregnancies?

Jennifer Bruno is a credentialed trainer by day and a freelance writer and aspiring photographer by night. Raised in rural Kansas, Jen moved to sunny Florida after college where she met her husband, who married her despite hearing her sing Dixie Chicks karaoke. Shortly after saying “I do”, they moved to New York City to fulfill their dream of living amongst the bright lights and skyscrapers. They currently share their cramped apartment with two modelesque miniature dachshunds named Millie an ... More

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4 comments

  1. Moyo says:

    consciously want to run away from areas where cats have passed, especially my front yard. Really need to do something to chase them away.
    Any tips?

  2. i believe knowing what is bad for you and the baby are the one the most important priorites the mother should know about and follow.

  3. Dario says:

    Wow! This is a bit interesting..in make up?!

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