What Toxins Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy? 10 Toxins

Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022
What Toxins Should Be Avoided During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, exposure to toxins and chemicals can be harmful to both mother and baby. Learn about 10 toxins you should avoid during pregnancy

During pregnancy, exposure to toxins and chemicals can be harmful to both mother and baby, increasing the risk of congenital disorders and other health problems.

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep can build up your defenses against common pregnancy hazards. However, it is also important to take precautions to minimize exposure to toxins to the best of your ability. Here are 10 toxins to avoid during pregnancy.

10 toxins to avoid during pregnancy

  1. Pesticides and herbicides: Some pesticides and herbicides used in the home and for professional pest treatments are known to affect organ development in newborns. It is best to avoid them as much as possible and ask a licensed pest control professional to do the treatment.
  2. Cleaning products: Some household chemicals have been reported to cause wheezing in early childhood. Pregnant women are advised to wear gloves and avoid breathing in fumes from products such as oven cleaners and tile cleaners.
  3. Mosquito repellent: While most mosquito repellents are usually safe to use, a small amount of chemicals such as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide or picaridin can penetrate the skin. Therefore, it is best to exercise caution with mosquito repellents, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. Select a mosquito repellent with a low concentration of the chemical and find other ways to avoid mosquitos, such as fly screens.
  4. Mercury: Exposure to high levels of mercury during pregnancy can increase the risk of brain damage and lead to hearing and vision problems in a developing infant. During pregnancy, you should limit your consumption of fish containing mercury, such as shark (flake), broadbill, marlin, and swordfish.
  5. Nail polish: Nail polish, some cosmetics, and hair-straightening products contain formaldehyde. While the amount of the chemical in nail polish is usually very small and can be broken down quickly by the body, the adverse effects on a baby cannot be ruled out. Use nail polishes that do not have formaldehyde.
  6. Paint and lead-based products: High levels of lead can lead to premature birth, low birth weight, or even miscarriage or stillbirth. It is therefore important to be cautious and limit exposure to lead as much as possible.
  7. Flame retardants: Flame retardants are chemicals used to make furniture items less flammable and have been associated with learning disabilities in children. Therefore, to avoid its exposure, clean your hands frequently, switch to a vacuum fitted with a high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter, and mop the floor regularly.
  8. Asbestos: Asbestos is linked to several lung diseases such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, although the effect of asbestos on pregnancy or congenital disorder is not unclear. To be safe, it is best to avoid contact with asbestos or suspected sources of asbestos during pregnancy.
  9. Bisphenol A (BPA): The chemical BPA is present in most plastics and has the potential to pass from mother to baby in the womb. Some studies have suggested that BPA exposure can cause brain and behavior problems in some children. The chemical has also been linked to hormonal disruptions in both mother and child.
  10. Mothballs (naphthalene): The chemical naphthalene in mothballs has been known to cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Serious health problems have been reported in small children who put mothballs in their mouth. Avoid using mothballs around young children and confirm that they are stored safely.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/3/2022
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