Toxins and Pregnancy
You're finally pregnant – and the world seems fraught with dangers. Here's a guide to help you navigate through the legitimate concerns and the baseless worries.
Avoid Every Remotely Possible Risk?
Journalists Deirdre Dolan and Alexandra Zissu conducted exhaustive research
because they wanted their pregnancies to be the healthiest possible. They
recently published that information in a book, The Complete Organic
Pregnancy, that looked at "what you need to know -- from the nail
polish you wear to the bed you sleep in to the water you drink."
Martinez has not read the book. But, she notes, "There's so much
information out there that serious messages -- like the risk of Accutane -- get
She and O'Rourke commented on a few of the risks cited in the book:
"Don't worry about getting your nails done," says Martinez.
"Regarding chemical exposure, we worry about chronic or acute poisoning.
For example, if you worked in a nail salon and had severe headaches day after
day, it would indicate there's too much toxin in the bloodstream and you would
be at increased risk for miscarriage."
Alpha-hydroxy skin cream:
OK, says Martinez.
Vinyl shower curtain.
OK, says Martinez.
Wite-Out, permanent markers, and inhaling gas
when you pump: "Don't sniff them to get high," advises Martinez.
commonly treated with PBDE fire retardant chemicals: OK, says Martinez.
interior: OK, says Martinez.
maternity clothes: "They're OK," says Martinez. "A concern would
be for someone working in a mom-and-pop shop that doesn't meet OSHA
Bottled water in certain plastic containers:
"Once opened, don't keep bottled water longer than a week," says
O'Rourke. "I wouldn't re-use them. That has to do with bacterial
contamination, not plastic leaching into the water. Recycle them."
"If you're in a public water system, it should be safe," says
O'Rourke. "If you're on a well, presumably you have it tested
on food: "I wouldn't heat things up with it," says O'Rourke. "We
don't know about how it breaks down."
"Used properly, at low temperatures with non-abrasive utensils, it's
fine," says O'Rourke.
"Levels of pesticides in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables
are considered to be safe," says O'Rourke. "All produce, including
organically grown, should be washed."
Get a Flu Shot
Women who are pregnant are at high risk for complications from influenza,
according to the CDC. It's safe to get a flu shot at any time during your
pregnancy, says Martinez. "Pregnant women are especially at risk of
morbidity during the second and third trimesters."
Also, make sure you're up-to-date on any needed vaccinations before
you become pregnant. Rubella, or German measles, for instance,
poses a serious risk to fetuses in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Utah's Pregnancy Riskline is one of more than 30 North American services
belonging to the Organization of Teratology Information Services. Detailed fact
sheets, and contact information for state and regional resources can be found
on their web site.
Also, the March of Dimes web site is a good source of information.