4 Household Items That Can Be Harmful During Pregnancy

by Stephlina D'Cunha

Pregnancy is a special time, not just for you, but for your baby. While you definitely need to eat right and ensure you're in the best of health, you also need to be vigilant about the products you are using and if they're potentially harmful to your baby. Though the Internet is flooded with information on prenatal supplements, yoga, exercise, and pregnancy diets, moms-to-be often lack info on the things that should be avoided during pregnancy.

Chemicals & Pregnancy

Harmful chemicals are rampant in our lives and infiltrate our food supply, home and the environment in numerous hidden ways. From your personal care products, detergents, storage cans and antibacterial soap to your cooking utensils and the food that you consume on a daily basis, chemicals are present everywhere. However, have you ever given a thought to how these chemicals can pose a risk to the health and development of your baby?

According to a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE, pregnant women who were exposed to high levels of common household chemicals found in plastics, cosmetics and air fresheners had babies with an average IQ six points lower than their peers whose mothers had lower levels of chemical exposure.Dee Quinn, senior genetic counselor at The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, University of Arizona, says, Exposures that cause birth defects start working during the first 12 weeks or pregnancy (after the last menstrual period). While information is usually available about exposures to single agents, often little is known about how agents interact with each other.We tell you about four chemicals that are risky to use during pregnancy and ways to avoid them.

1. Phthalates
A class of chemical substances that find extensive use in everyday products such as detergents, paint, cosmetics and food packaging, phthalates are known for improving durability, transparency and longevity of these items. However, they are also known endocrine disruptors which not only conflict with the growth of the baby but are also responsible for miscarriages.
Avoid:
Plastic containers, tin cans, synthetic fragrances, chemical detergents, and surfactants. You can also choose phthalate-free baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and other products to keep your childs phthalate burden low.

2. Pesticides
Modern agricultural practices have introduced several pesticides in our food chain. These chemicals have, however, given rise to a bigger problempesticide-resistant insects which have become immune to them. Several studies have outlined the harmful effects of pesticides on unborn fetuses, causing neurological anomalies and other birth defects. Pesticides have been found to make their way in maternal blood, umbilical cord and even in breast milk.
Avoid:
Eating chemical produce and stick to organic foods only. Choosing organic personal care products such as shampoo, soap and lotions can also limit your exposure.

3. Triclosan
One of the most sinister chemicals, triclosan finds its way in our everyday lives through antibacterial soaps and toothpaste. Studies have highlighted its nasty side effects, particularlyinfertility in both the genders. Apart from this, triclosan can alsoimpair thyroid function in developing babies.
Avoid:
Triclosan-containing antibacterial hand gels, soaps, toothpasteand similar products. Use natural disinfectants instead.

4. Bisphenol A
You may recognize it as BPA, this chemical is a hormone modulator especially estrogen. Lower levels of exposure can also cause impairment in the brain function of the fetus as well as low infant birth weight.
Avoid:
Plastics, tin cans, dental sealants.

More tips:
Dr. Quinn suggests keeping these guidelines in mind when using household products during pregnancy:

  • Follow the directions and use as mentioned in the package directionsnever mix products together
  • Use products in a well-ventilated area
  • Use protective clothing such as gloves and good masks. Simple cloth masks will not prevent exposure
  • If at any time during the usage, nausea, dizziness or a headache develops, leave the area immediately and get fresh air.
Read on for more pregnancy tips and smart advice:
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What changes did you implement in your life after becoming pregnant? Tell us in the comments.
 

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