A report out this month in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology says women who are pregnant, or trying to conceive, should avoid environmental toxins that can affect the development of a fetus – and even have life-long health effects. The list includes mercury in certain kinds of fish, lead in paint in older homes and some cosmetics, pesticides and chemicals called endocrine disruptors such as BPA found in some plastics.
Easy steps you can take at home include taking off your shoes at your front door, to keep toxics out of your house. Eating less processed and canned food. Avoiding plastics with recycling codes #3, #6 and #7. And not using chemical tick and flea collars or dips for pets. More details:
- Risk factors: Exposure can come from eating some types of fish, contact with quicksilver, and use of skin-lightening creams. Exposure during pregnancy can lead to adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes that include lower IQ, poor language and motor development.
- Reducing exposure: Pregnant, preconception and breastfeeding women should follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state-specific fish consumption guidelines. Avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tile fish and large tuna. (Not all fish is dangerous and growing babies benefit from the good fats in fish – talk with your doctor about what’s safe and how much to have.)
- Find more information about mercury here.
- Risk factors: Risk factors for exposure include recent immigration to the U.S., occupational exposure, imported cosmetics, and renovating or remodeling a home built before 1970. Lead is neurotoxic to a developing fetus.
- Reducing exposure: Never eat nonfood items (clay, soil, pottery or paint chips); avoid jobs or hobbies that may involve lead exposure; stay away from repair, repainting, renovation and remodeling work conducted in homes built before 1978; eat a balanced diet with adequate intakes of iron and calcium; avoid cosmetics, food additives and medicines imported from overseas; and remove shoes at the door to prevent tracking in lead and other pollutants.
- Find more information about lead here.