A recent study from the UCSF (University of California, San Francisco) claims that the bodies of almost all pregnant women in the U.S. have several chemicals in them that may be harmful for their babies. These include chemicals which were banned from the 1970's, like those used in non-stick cookware, body care products, and processed foods.
Among the 163 chemicals analyzed was BPA (Bisphenol A), commonly found in hard household products and plastics. Exposure to BPA by pregnant women has been found to produce adverse effects on unborn babies during prenatal development, infancy or puberty, including: • preterm birth and birth defects • death • disease in adulthood
Other chemicals found were: • certain PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls, found in crude oil), • organochlorine pesticides, • PFCs (perfluorocarbons, found in teflon and stain-resistant products), phenols (used as scent enhancers), • PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as flame retardant), • Phthalates (used to soften plastics), • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, used to combust materials) and • Perchlorate (used in rocket fuel, fireworks, airbags, etc.).”
Despite taking precautions to avoid harmful substances, 99 to 100 percent of the pregnant women were found with the said chemicals in the body. These can enter the placenta and the fetus, and in some cases stay in the amniotic fluid, cord blood and meconium (first intestinal discharge of the newborn).
According to lead author, Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, “It was surprising and concerning to find so many chemicals in pregnant women without fully knowing the implications for pregnancy."
The most that pregnant women can do is to avoid these harmful chemicals, as much as possible, despite their prevalence in the environment.
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Some of the common sources of these chemicals include pesticides, non-organic foods, skin care products and makeup. Medium to high doses in your system can be harmful and lead to infertility, cancer or other disorders, but based on the study, the contamination found is very minute and the toxic content is highly unlikely to cause harm to your baby.
Still, the researchers indicated that additional studies are needed to establish the effect of these chemicals to a pregnant woman’s body. More importantly, Woodruff recommends, "...while individuals can take actions in their everyday lives to protect themselves from toxins, significant, long-lasting change only will result from a systemic approach that includes proactive government policies."
SOURCES: • January 14, 2011. “Study identifies chemicals in pregnant women” PhysOrg.com • February 6, 2011. “Pregnant Mothers Contaminated with Toxic Chemicals” ArticlesBase.com • Summer. January 18, 2011. “Study: Pregnant Women Are Full of Chemicals” GrowingYourBaby.com