Friday, January 14, 2011

Study Finds High Toxin Levels in Pregnant Women

Image by Justin Marty
A new study by the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) has found over 40 toxins in the blood and urine of pregnant women. Many of the toxins have been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s, before many of the women were even born, indicating just how pervasive they are in the environment. Others are found in common household products, cooking utensils, beauty aids and processed food.

The study was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives and is the first that actually counted the number of toxic chemicals in the bodies of pregnant women. 163 chemicals were studied and 43 of them were found in nearly every one of the 268 women tested.

The researchers also looked at non-pregnant women and found even higher levels for some chemicals, suggesting that pregnant women may be exercising greater precaution in what they eat and use in their homes. Nevertheless, even at the relatively low levels found in the women, many of these chemicals can have serious consequences for their babies, increasing the risk of birth defects, cancer, cognitive impairment and possibly even obesity.

Below is a list of some of the 43 chemicals found in the majority of the women along with their likely sources and potential health consequences:

The good news is that our exposures to many of these substances can be significantly reduced. For example, exposure to Bisphenol A can be minimized by avoiding the use of plastic bottles and aluminum cans made with the substance. And exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons can be reduced by avoiding smoke, especially tobacco smoke, but also candles, incense and air fresheners.

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