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Get a Head Start on a Healthy Pregnancy

Planning on getting pregnant? This guide to preconception care will help you make healthier choices about avoiding toxins.

Preconception Care: Are Plastics and Dry Cleaning Safe? continued...

As an alternative, use glass containers to store food, and use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap when your microwave.

When it comes to dry cleaning, some doctors say that clothes laundered by conventional dry cleaning pose no risk to pregnant women; others say to avoid them altogether. The biggest concern is around perchloroethylene (“perc”).

"We know that perc exposures occur from clothes that are brought into the house, and we know that perc easily crosses the placenta and gets into the baby,” Schettler says. "It also gets into breast milk." Choose clothes that don't need dry cleaning, or look for a dry cleaner that uses a water-based process. If you have some clothes that have to be dry cleaned, hang them outside and let them air out before bringing them in.

Avoiding Toxins Pre-Pregnancy: Solutions for the Nesting Instinct

Even if you’re just planning your pregnancy, you may be feeling the urge to get the house in order before a baby is born. But you should be careful about exposure to toxins from renovation work or new furniture and other items.

If your home was built before 1978, have it tested for lead paint. The EPA has a list of labs where you can send paint samples for testing. Removal of lead paint must be done by a professional lead abatement specialist. If you have lead paint removed, you should stay out of the house until it has been cleaned thoroughly.

You may also want to be choosy about new furniture and carpet, which can give off chemical fumes. “The rule of thumb is: Stay away from anything that smells,” says Evans.

Kimberly Rider, an interior designer in San Rafael, Calif., and author of Organic Baby and The Healthy Home Workbook, suggests buying solid wood vintage furniture and using No-VOC (volatile organic chemicals) paints.

Pre-Pregnancy and Toxins: What Men Should Know

It’s a good idea for your partner to get healthy before conception too.

According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, ongoing exposure to pesticides, chemical fertilizers, lead, nickel, mercury, chromium, ethylene glycol ethers, petrochemicals, benzene, perchloroethylene, radiation, and other toxins can lower sperm quality as well as quantity, and possibly lead to miscarriage in their partner’s pregnancy.

Prospective fathers may want to follow many of the same guidelines you do for avoiding toxins. Men should also see their doctor to discuss important preconception care on their part.

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Reviewed on October 11, 2009

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