If pregnant women should minimise their exposure to everyday chemicals, shouldn’t we all?

If pregnant women should minimise their exposure to everyday chemicals, shouldn’t we all?

A couple of days ago, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released a Scientific Impact Paper recommending that pregnant women be made aware of all possible sources of chemical exposure in order to minimise harm to their unborn child.

This paper is called Chemical exposures during pregnancy: Dealing with potential, but unproven, risks to child health (my italics). If we presume that potential for harm isn’t limited to unborn children, this supports the point I made in my ‘fruit fly’ blog – that, while individual chemicals might be deemed safe, we have no idea about their effect in combination and over long periods of time.

The paper points out that, under normal lifestyle and dietary conditions, pregnant women are exposed to low levels of a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals and that exposure can occur through many avenues, including food from tins or plastic containers, household products, over-the-counter medicines and personal care products and cosmetics.

One thing I learned from my friend Sharon McGlinchey, the founder  of organic skincare company MV Skincare (www.mvskincare.com), is that the skin is extremely efficient at absorbing everything we put on it. Any chemicals are likely to go straight into the blood stream – if they didn’t, things like nicotine patches wouldn’t work. Yet, as the paper points out, in the UK at least, current legislation does not require manufacturers to name all potentially harmful chemicals used in low dose on the label of products like moisturisers, sunscreens and shower gels. I’ve been using coconut oil as an affordable organic body moisturiser for years now.

The authors’ conclusion is that pregnant women should take a ‘safety first’ approach, which is to assume there is risk present even when it may be minimal or eventually unfounded. While there’s no need to be hysterical or obsessive about it, it I do think making chemical-free choices where possible would be a sensible policy for us all.

Read the RCOG media release here: http://www.rcog.org.uk/news/rcog-release-mothers-be-should-be-aware-unintentional-chemical-exposures-say-experts

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