Maybe you’re a new mother and are expecting a new bundle of joy. Of course, you want to make sure things are just right for your baby, and part of that starts with the choices you make right now. Making sure you are limiting (or preferably avoiding altogether) toxic exposure is a great first step. One avenue to consider is traffic pollution. Cutting that out of your life completely might not be practical, but there’s recent evidence that suggests it could be harming your unborn child. In fact, women who are exposed to high traffic pollution during the second trimester are at a greater risk of giving birth to a child with fragile lungs.  
7 Things Expecting Mothers Need to Know
Unfortunately, today’s world is rife with toxic contaminants, and traffic pollution is just one thing you need to reduce when expecting. Here are 7 more things for you to think about during your pregnancy and beyond.
1. Watch Out for Household Chemicals
Found in many common products, triclosan is a pretty nasty endocrine disruptor that could be harming your baby.  The germ-killer triclocarban—found in some bar soaps—is also a concern. While it’s not completely clear what these endocrine disruptors can do, studies have linked triclosan to liver cancer, and more children are being exposed to both of these toxins in the womb. 
2. Beware of BPA and BPS Products
Used in lots of plastic goods, BPA is bad news for the endocrine system, and its substitute BPS really isn’t much better. You probably get more BPA exposure than you think from those thermal receipts that are so popular nowadays, and if a company uses BPS…well, they can label that item as BPA-free. Pregnant women might want to be especially wary of endocrine disruptors, since a recent study suggests both BPA and BPS could cause “real and measurable changes in the development of a brain region that plays a key role in fear, impulse-control, obesity and early puberty.”  It’s also a smart idea to check with your hospital about the BPA status of medical equipment. 
3. The Effect of Phthalates on Your Baby’s IQ
A recent report suggests children exposed to high-levels of phthalates in the womb are more likely to have lower IQs—possibly by as much as seven points.  One of the researchers commented a drop like that could have a significant impact on academic achievement. But, unfortunately, phthalates are all around us. One of the toxins (di-n-butyl phthalate) could even be used in pill coatings.  So while avoiding exposure might be impossible, reducing it definitely can’t hurt.
4. A Glass of Red Wine Might Not Be as Safe as You’ve Been Told
Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant in red wine that’s said to do everything from combat obesity to help with heart disease. Just one glass of red wine can’t hurt, right? Well, recent evidence suggests this ‘health food’ in a glass could damage your unborn baby’s pancreas. Just keep in mind, however, that what might be healthy for the mother may not be that great for the developing fetus. 
5. A New Nursery Can Be the Source of Harmful Toxins
When waiting for your new arrival, your instinct is to create the perfect nursery. Often, that could involve installing new flooring, but a recent study suggests that might not be the best idea.  Toxins like styrene and ethylbenzene can be used in carpet glue and in laminate. We know these toxins are bad news, but they can be even worse for developing lungs—both before and after birth—potentially causing wheezing and other breathing problems.
6. Antidepressants Can Cause Autism
While you should never just stop taking your medication without a doctor’s consent, a recent study suggests a pregnant woman’s use of antidepressants could slightly increase the risk for autism in her child.  These findings are still new and more research is needed, but the trick for researchers will be balancing the mental health of mother and child. The good news, though, is taking prenatal vitamins could reduce the autism risk by half. 
7. Don’t Let Your Kid Put Toys in Their Mouth
While 6 phthalates are banned in children’s toys in the U.S., unbanned—and sometimes even banned—ones can show up in toys. Studies reveal that early exposure to phthalates can harm male reproduction and influence early puberty.  One study found higher than legal limits of lead and chromium in certain toys. So, for health’s sake, make sure to keep those toys away from little mouths.
One Final Thought
Toxins can be such a danger to our children; unfortunately, many doctors don’t talk about these things with new and expecting mothers, so you need to educate yourself. Let this be one step towards learning as much as you can about what toxins can potentially harm your baby.
Do you want to know more for your baby’s sake? Please feel free to leave you thoughts or questions in the comments.
- Morales, E. et al. Intrauterine and early postnatal exposure to outdoor air pollution and lung function at preschool age. Thorax. 70.
- Sly, P. D. Traffic-related air pollution: an avoidable exposure to improve respiratory health. Thorax. 70.
- Pycke, B. F. et al. Human fetal exposure to triclosan and triclocarban in an urban population from Brooklyn, New York. Environmental Science & Technology. 48 (15).
- Dinwiddie, M., Terry, P. & Chen, J. Recent Evidence Regarding Triclosan and Cancer Risk. International Journal of Environmental Responsibility and Public Health. 11 (2).
- Kinch, C. et al. Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (5).
- Mallow, E. B. & Fox, M. A. Phthalates and critically ill neonates: device-related exposures and non-endocrine toxic risks. Journal of Perinatology. 34.
- Factor-Litvak, P. et al. Persistent Associations between Maternal Prenatal Exposure to Phthalates on Child IQ at Age 7 Years. PLOS ONE.
- Kelley, K. et al. Identification of Phthalates in Medications and Dietary Supplement Formulations in the United States and Canada. Environmental Health Perspectives. 120 (3).
- Roberts, V. et al. Beneficial and cautionary outcomes of resveratrol supplementation in pregnant nonhuman primates. FASEB. 28 (6).
- Franck, U. et al. Prenatal VOC exposure and redecoration are related to wheezing in early infancy.Environment International. 73.
- Harrington, R. et al. Prenatal SSRI Use and Offspring With Autism Spectrum Disorder or Developmental Delay. Pediatrics.
- Schmidt, RJ. Prenatal vitamins, one-carbon metabolism gene variants, and risk for autism. Epidemiology. 22 (4).
- US Public Interest Research Group. Trouble in Toyland. US Public Interest Research Group.