Environmental Toxins and Pregnancy

Some studies have linked neurological disorders in babies and children to environmental toxins the mother was exposed to during her pregnancy. Babies who are exposed to environmental toxins while in the womb, especially during the first trimester, may suffer consequences which will follow them for their entire life. One of the common environmental toxins we sometimes take for granted is phalates, which are commonly found in hairspray, plastics and make-up and have been associated with pregnancy risk factors. A commonly prescribed seizure medicine which is sometimes prescribed to pregnant women with seizure disorders and contains valproic acid, has also been found to increase risk factors for the developing fetus.

Commonsense Tips to Avoid Environmental Toxins

While it is impossible to completely avoid all environmental toxins-whether pregnant or not-there are certain things you can fairly easily avoid. If your home requires sanding or painting while you are pregnant, let someone else do the work, and stay away from the area being renovated. Bring in an expert to determine whether lead hazards exist in your home, and get rid of any older vinyl mini-blinds. If your home was built prior to 1978, make sure to keep your gardening activities a good three feet away from the foundation. Reduce your exposure to dust through frequent wet-mopping, and avoid buying new carpeting, vinyl flooring or certain types of furniture as they can emit toxic fumes. Never use pesticides in your home, lawn, or garden, and avoid the toxic solvents commonly found in hair coloring, nail polish, hair spray and artificial nails. Skip the dry cleaners while you are pregnant, use mercury-free digital thermometers, and don’t allow your dentist to fill any cavities with silver fillings.

Minimize Exposure

By simply having all family members remove shoes prior to entering the home, your family’s exposure to a wide variety of chemicals can be greatly reduced. Filter your tap or well water and you can successfully decrease exposure to carcinogens and endocrine-disrupting chemicals known to exist in most water sources. Store your filtered water in either stainless steel or glass containers, and avoid all plastic containers which are made with BPA or phthalates which can leach into your water. Along the same lines, microwave foods and beverages in ceramic or glass containers. If at all possible, choose free-range meat which has been raised without antibiotics and growth hormones, and choose organic fruit and vegetables. Locally grown produce which has been grown without the use of toxic pesticides containing DDT is always a better choice, and you will find more and more local food markets cropping up. When you eat meat and fish, remove as much of the fat and skin as possible, as this is where toxins accumulate.

ADHD Linked to Environmental Toxins?

Some scientists believe that as many as thirty percent of the current cases of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder can be definitively linked to either tobacco smoke exposure prior to birth or lead exposure after birth. The government’s “acceptable” levels of lead may not be that acceptable after all, so try to go with the thought that no level of exposure is acceptable when you are pregnant. For children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy, they were over two times as likely to develop ADHD, as were children with more exposure to lead.

The developing fetus is especially vulnerable to all forms of environmental toxins, so it is critical to avoid such toxins to the extent possible during pregnancy. A healthy baby is your reward!

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