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Silent Environmental Dangers for Pregnancy

A quick summary of environmental and chemical hazards that may affect pregnancy.

As we know when a woman becomes pregnant the list of things that become off limits can be daunting. The obvious ones like alcohol, smoking, and certain medications are clear right from the beginning, but what many women don’t know are some quiet environmental risks that can also pose a real risk to a growing fetus.

While some environmental risks may seem clear, some that people may overlook are much less obvious. For example, workers at beauty salons, spas, and dry cleaners have a higher risk of miscarriage and birth defect than most other working moms. Consistent exposure to contaminants has been linked to workers in this field having unsuccessful pregnancies.

Another potential environment risks include phthalates-chemicals used in vinyl plastic and some personal care products which has been linked to harm in male babies reproductive systems. The same has been said for the plastic chemical component in some nail polishes.

Treating indoor bugs with pesticides is harmful to carrying mothers as it can cause pre-term labor and harm a baby in the womb subsequently resulting in birth defects. Pesticides, in addition to the chemical polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs – a family of industrial chemicals that contaminates the general food supply) are often times used in commercial settings that expectant mothers may work at or frequently visit.

These factors are often times overlooked and not disclosed. The bottom line is to always know what types of chemicals, cleaners, pesticides, and products that are used at the places you work and shop. Not knowing what is there could be detrimental to a healthy pregnancy and baby.


  • Women's Voices for the Earth, 2013
  • The Collaborative on Health and Environment, 2013

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