Most expectant mothers see doctors far more frequently than other people, so you would expect that they would receive the finest medical care. However, a shocking report released by "Environmental Health News" suggests that many women aren't being properly informed about how to best care for their bodies and protect themselves and their babies during pregnancy.
The article details the findings of a survey in which 2,600 OB-GYNs were asked questions about how they care for expectant mothers. The survey found that the majority of physicians don't explain the risks of environmental toxins to their patients, instead focusing on preventing pre-term labor and complications related to obesity like gestational diabetes.
The need for education becomes clear when you examine the results of a study published in 2011. In the study, pregnant women were found to have 100 different toxins in their bodies, and 43 of these were isolated in the bodies of all 268 study participants. The toxins discovered in the study can lead to numerous health complications for developing babies, such as birth defects, respiratory disorders and a higher risk for cancer later in life.
For women concerned about what environmental toxins should be avoided, we've put together these tips taken from Environmental Health News, Dr. Oz, the American Pregnancy Association and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
- Avoid eating raw and undercooked meats, soft cheeses and unpasteurized dairy products.
- Give up processed meats, such as hot dogs and lunchmeats.
- Don't eat foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or trans fats.
- Thoroughly clean produce with natural fruit and veggie cleaner to eliminate pesticide residues.
- Have someone else pump gas for you to avoid fumes from petroleum.
- Limit your exposure to BPA and phthalates, common additives in plastic. Make the switch to metal, glass or sustainable bamboo cookware, dishes, silverware and drinkware.
- Stop using cleaning products that contain toluene, xylene, benzene, tetrachloroethylene, ethylene oxide, acetone, acetonitrile and formaldehyde. An easy way to avoid these chemicals is to switch to green cleaning products, such as cloths that can be used with just water.
- Test your home for radon and take steps to reduce levels of the radioactive gas if necessary.
- Don't consent to any type of medical test without specifically asking if it is safe to perform during pregnancy, and ask a pharmacist or your doctor before taking any type of medication, including over-the-counter products.
While it's not possible to completely avoid environmental impurities, taking these steps can lead to a healthier pregnancy.