Constant exposure to the polluted environment puts our health at risk as it increases instances of asthma, different kinds of cancer, reproductive dysfunction, birth defects and many more. The risks increase when you are pregnant since your unborn child is more vulnerable. The effects of toxins feel compelling since they can not only be lasting but also adverse. Major causes of brain and neural defects among children have been traced back to a mother’s exposure to toxins during pregnancy.
Here are some toxins you should be wary of and avoid:
1. Tobacco Smoke: Cigarette smoking is not only injurious to your health, it also has a lasting effect on your unborn child. Usually, a smoker’s body is tuned to the cigarette that may act as a trigger to some bodily functions. However, lead, cyanide, nicotine and carbon monoxide among a plethora of other harmful chemicals that are present in tobacco clog your blood vessels. It also affects the umbilical cord that is your baby’s only source of oxygen. Nicotine deposits reduce the circumference of your blood vessels that implies reduced oxygen transport. Also, your red blood cells begin to replace oxygen molecules with carbon monoxide molecules during their transport, thereby completely cutting off supply. Reduced oxygen to the fetus is the major reason for stillbirth, stunted growth, and other birth defects.
How To Avoid: You might be a light smoker and assume that a few cigarettes a day as opposed to a whole pack are a healthier choice. You are wrong. You should not smoke while trying to conceive or even during your pregnancy. If you have been smoking for a long time, it is going to be a difficult habit to give up, but you have to find a way to quit.
2. Mercury: Some fish contain a high concentration of mercury like tuna, king mackerel, shark, swordfish, shellfish and tilefish. It enters our food chain from contaminated water. Fishes in mercurycontaminated water absorb the mercury through their gills. Bigger predatory fish contain more mercury concentration as can be understood from their place in the food chain. The mercury passes on into the human body when these predatory fishes are consumed. Doctors ask women to avoid mercurycontaining fish during pregnancy since it can cause neurological damage to the growing baby. Recent research has also linked increased concentration of mercury to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids.
How To Avoid: You can have wild salmon and other river fish over tuna and mackerel. Also, you can have small fish that have reduced concentrations of mercury, if at all.
3. Arsenic: Arsenic is a carcinogen that can be detrimental for your pregnancy. Arsenic is found in the environment in its organic as well as inorganic forms and predominantly affects skin, liver, kidney and lungs. Apple and grape juices, as well as rice and rice products, can contain organic and inorganic arsenic. More often than not arsenic contamination results from naturally occurring arsenic that gets diluted in the water that is used for irrigation. It can also be caused by arsenic contained in pesticides that seeps into the soil and is absorbed by the plants. Arsenic poisoning can lead to neural tube defects as well as death in acute cases.
How to Avoid: East fresh fruits and avoid packaged fruit juices. Also, before eating a fruit, rinse it properly or soak it in dilute potassium permanganate solution and then wash it. For rice and other grains, make sure to wash them properly before cooking. If you want to exclude rice from your daily diet, doctors advise mothers to include a diet of whole grains as the replacement.
4. Pesticides: To control pests and infections, most farmers resort to using pesticides. It is easier on their pockets, and is effective. However, it is harmful to us. Pesticides contain chemicals that are carcinogenic, and also adversely affect your pregnancy. You baby might be born prematurely, with stunted growth and reduced weight because of pesticide poisoning. The concentration of pesticides continues to increase as we move up the food chain. It implies that human beings incur maximum concentration of pesticides. Now you know why you must be careful of the food you eat!
How To Avoid: Ideally, you can have organically grown food that uses manure and compost as fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers. Also, organic crops avoid the use of any pesticide. Organic fruits like mangoes, pomegranates, apples and pineapples are also a healthy choice of preservative induced fruit juices. Don’t’ forget to rinse fruits and vegetables properly before consuming. You can also soak them in dilute potassium permanganate solution for some time, and wash them again before consumption.
5. Lead: Lead has been used in paint and toys for a long time until it was banned. The presence of lead in your body can cause neurological damage in the fetus, stunted growth, reduced or delayed development as well as kidney damage. Lead is a heavy metal that does not disintegrate or is flushed from your body which is cause for concern.
How To Avoid: Check the product content of the toy you pick up, as well as jewelry for lead. Keep sink and washbasins at home clean and leadfree. Also, check the content of paint before purchasing it. Avoid using hair colors that contain lead as an ingredient.
6. Fluoride: Fluoride is beneficial since it prevents cavities, but its increased concentration is responsible for some health problems. It can lead your teeth enamel to corrode, pits in your teeth enamel, teeth discoloration as well as neurotoxicity. Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical that is required by our bodies in moderation. Increased concentration of fluoride during your pregnancy can affect your baby’s brain development. It has also been linked to psychiatric disorders among children, as well as increase risks of other birth defects.
How To Avoid: Avoid using any fluoridecontaining toothpaste and mouthwash. Also, be careful of the water you drink since fluoride is sometimes externally added to as a public health measure. Find out what is the level of fluoride in your drinking water and consider investing in a water purifier.
7. Bisphenol A And Phthalates: Both bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are found in canned food, bottled formula, and plastic containers. They are endocrine disrupters that mimic natural hormones and vary their secretion. BPA and phthalates can lead to the increased secretion of estrogen thereby causing miscarriage. It can also lower the secretion of testosterone in men and affect sperm motility and fertility.
How To Avoid: Do not microwave your food in plastic containers since they release BPA into your food. Also, avoid buying canned food or check if they are BPAfree. Avoid using personal care products that have ‘fragrance’ listed in the ingredients since more often than not, they contain phthalates. When you are more cautious, you can avoid exposure to some of the common toxins present in the environment. Reduced exposure to toxins is going to ensure you baby’s health as well as yours. So, increase your awareness of toxins to guarantee a healthy pregnancy.
Written by: Aradhana Pandey
Aradhana is from India. She is a veteran writer on topics concerning parenting, child nutrition, wellness, health and lifestyle. As a regular contributor to popular sites like Huffington Post, Natural news, Elephant journal, Thehealthsite, Naturally Savvy, Curejoy and MomJunction.com, Aradhana writes to inspire and motivate people to adopt healthy habits and live a stress-free lifestyle.
Last Update: 2011-09-01