Very much is still unknown about the effects of chemicals and other potential toxins in our environment to the unborn child. There are very real concerns that the increase in autism and other developmental disorders are directly related to our increased exposure to chemicals and through our environment, foods we consume, medicines and other elements that we are in contact with on a regular basis.
Pregnancy often provides the incentive many women need to institute lifestyle changes such as stopping smoking, eliminating alcohol, or eating a healthier diet. The increased demand for organic food is in part driven by a new generation of pregnant mothers demand for pesticides and herbicides free choices in our supermarkets.
Use Caution with Medications
It is important to be fully informed about potential risks before you routinely take prescription or over the counter medications, considering the health and benefits to the mother along with the possible risks to the developing child. Whenever possible, the best route may be to err on the side of caution, a decision you may want to make in a discussion with your physician or care provider.
One of the even greater unknowns are the possible side effects when different drugs are inadvertently combined.
Easy Chemicals to Avoid:
- Hair and Nail Salons
- Permanents, hair dyes and other hair processing
- Shampoos, soaps and skin care products with excessive perfumes and other artificial ingredients
- Chemical fumes from home cleaning products. – Use natural cleansers
- Over-the-counter medicines
- Foods with artificial coloring
- Eat Organic, reducing your exposure to the chemicals in herbicides and pesticides.
Exposure to pathogenic bacteria increases when you consume raw or uncooked foods.
Common Pathogenic Bacteria
- E. coli
Avoiding these foods lowers your risk of exposure to bacteria:
- Raw meats
- Raw fish
- Unpasteurized milk or milk products such as soft cheese
- Unpasteurized juices
Wash or peel fruit or vegetables before you eat them. In addition to removing herbicides and pesticides, bad bacteria may be lingering on the outside skins.
Use caution with poultry and eggs. Thoroughly clean all surfaces where these foods come in contact. Wood cutting boards have been know to absorb and harbor bacteria such as salmonella.
Mercury poisoning through the over-consumption of certain fish is well documented. This means that even moderate even amounts of fish in your diet can exposure your developing baby to mercury.
Mercury Toxicity in Pregnancy can directly effect:
- Ocular or the eyes
- Digestive system
- Nervous systems
Specific Fish known to contain mercury:
- King Mackerel
- Both light and dark tuna
Before taking any type of medication when pregnant, consult with your doctor or care provider, but do your own research as well. When you speak with your care provider, it is in your best interest to be an informed patient, enabling you to better understand why or why it is not safe to take a specific drug or combination of drugs.
Doctors are not always happy to have their authority questioned, but with today’s web you can access studies and reports that will give you the latest information regarding drug side effects and pregnancies. Be sure to get your information from several sources, and check to see if they all refer to the same studies or if there is corroborating information from several studies. Look for dates to see when the research took place so you can be sure you are working with the most current information.
Aspirin and Anti-inflammatory Drugs
Although lower doses or baby aspirin is sometimes recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, a woman who is pregnant should not take an adult dose of aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen products such as Advil or Motrin.
During the first trimester, taking adult or high dose aspirin has been shown to cause miscarriages as well as congenital defects. During the third trimester, aspirin use can affect your baby’s heart development. Long-term use of aspirin throughout a pregnancy also increases the risk of bleeding in the brain of a premature baby.
At this time, acetaminophen, marketed under the brand name Tylenol, is considered a safe alternative for pain relief.
Isotretinoin is a drug marketed under the name Accutane prescribed for the treatment of acne. Its risk to pregnant women, causing a wide range of serious birth defects, is well documented. A generic version of the drug is sold under several names such as Amnesteen, Claravis and Sotret. Because the high probability of birth defects is so well known, the greatest risk here may be to a woman taking the drug for her skin condition who then becomes pregnant.