The gentlebirth.org website is provided courtesy of
Ronnie Falcao, LM MS, a homebirth midwife in Mountain View, CA


Medications/Teratogens/Substance Abuse

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

See also:

Subsections on this page:


Unborn babies carry pollutants, study finds  7/14/05 - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Unborn U.S. babies are soaking in a stew of chemicals, including mercury, gasoline byproducts and pesticides, according to a report released on Thursday.


1-800-532-3749 (in California)

California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) operates a Pregnancy Risk Information Line to promote healthy pregnancies through education and research.
The service provides FREE information about the following exposures during pregnancy: over-the-counter Medications, Prescription Medications, Vitamins/Supplements, Alcohol/Recreational Drugs, Vaccinations or Immunizations, Diseases or Infections, Chemicals, Pesticides, Occupational Exposures, Paternal Exposures. CTIS also provides information about the effects of medications taken while breastfeeding. This service is offered to the general public, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, women planning their pregnancy, fathers, physicians, genetic counselors, midwives, nurses, social workers, and other health care providers. The information and counseling is provided in a non-directive, and non-judgmental manner. To speak with a counselor about your questions call: 1-800-532-3749 (in California) or send an email via the website.

For residents outside of California but in the US or Canada: Contact the Organization of Teratology Information Services

For residents outside the United States or Canada: Contact the European Network of Teratology Information Services.

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy
- View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals Threaten Women’s Health Throughout Life [12/30/15] - This article is written about protecting young girls from premature puberty, but these same chemicals can also cause birth defects and other pregnancy problems.  You can search for the section at the end, Tips to Help You Avoid Toxic Chemicals.

CARE Northwest gives free telephone advice to pregnant and breastfeeding women about the possible effects of drug and chemical exposure. Call Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.: 888-616-8484.

Consumer Guides from the Environmental Working Group cover a wide variety of important subjects: BPA, Baby Bottles, Safer Cleaning Supplies, Triclosan, GMOs, PBDE,.

They offer a Pregnancy Awareness Guide.

Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children by Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff - From autism to cancer.  With indisputable data, the Shabecoffs reveal that the children of baby boomers—the first to be raised in a truly “toxified world”—have higher rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, autism and a frightening range of other neurological illnesses from ADHD to mental retardation, and other serious chronic illnesses compared to previous generations. They reveal that one out of two pregnancies fails to come to term or results in a less than healthy child, that premature births and infertility are on the rise as this generation matures, while the ratio of male babies dwindles.  These children are victims of a (perhaps unwitting) crime; the perpetrators are the companies who manufacture and use poisonous products.  Environmental exposures from conception to early life can set a person´s cellular code for life and can cause illness at any time from childhood until old age. Parkinson´s and Alzheimer´s diseases and breast cancer are examples.

Environmental Toxins Associated With Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

See also: Pollution and Chemical Teratogens

Prenatal Risk Assesment

Many Toxins and Suspected Toxins Are Commonly Found in Face, Body, and Hair Products

Breast is Best, but it Could Be Better: What is in Breast Milk That Should Not Be? This article provides many helpful tips about avoiding toxic chemicals that could be passed to your baby during pregnancy as well as postpartum through breastmilk.

In Harm's Way - Toxic Threats to Child Development - the toxins in household products may cause serious developmental disabilities through prenatal exposure - from the Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Pregnancy and Birth Issues section from Avoidance of Toxic and Unhealthy Exposures from Holistic Healing Web Page.  This includes a section on Dental Materials / Procedures.

Drugs in Pregnancy: Advice for Dentists [11/7/12]

Can I have dental work done while pregnant?
Dental anesthesia in early pregnancy?  Dangerous?

The March of Dimes wants all parents to know the joy of having a healthy baby.  Oddly, though, they seem to be lukewarm about breastfeeding support, which would prevent 20% of infant deaths.  In 2005, they allowed a formula manufacturer to be one of the major sponsors of their WalkAmerica.

This endorsement sends the wrong message to parents as well as to health care professionals.  How appalling!

Preventing Congenital Toxoplasmosis  - from the CDC

Risk of Congenital Toxoplasmosis Better Assessed by New Tests - January 29, 2001

Toxoplasmosis Infection Does Not Appear to Retard Fetal Growth - [Feb, 2005]

Supplements to Reduce Risks

CDC recommendations for 400 micrograms  (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily for all women of child-bearing age to prevent neural tube defects.

Vitamin C and lots of water helps to flush toxins out of the body.


Dental X-Rays Linked to Low Birth-Weight Babies - 4/27/04 - The association could be related to exposing the mothers' thyroid, pituitary or hypothalamus glands to radiation, even early in the pregnancy.

H1N1 Novel Pandemic Flu (Swine Flu)

See also: Cerebral Palsy for a discussion of concern about the FluMist vaccine for close contacts of pregnant women.

2009–2010 Influenza Season Assessment and Treatment for Pregnant Women with Influenza-Like Illness from ACOG

Study Reveals Why Flu Is Dangerous in Pregnancy [9/29/14] - In a surprise finding, researchers revealed that severe influenza in pregnancy is a hyperinflammatory disease and not a state of immunodeficiency, as previously believed.

10 Facts About the Flu Vaccine and the Flu from safeminds.org:  Under average conditions when the vaccine is a partial match for the circulating strains of flu, 100 people need to be vaccinated to avoid one set of influenza symptoms.  . . .  the flu vaccine causes approximately one case of Guillian-Barré syndrome, a major neurological condition leading to paralysis, for every one million vaccinations administered.

According to flu vaccine package inserts, “Safety and effectiveness has not been established in pregnant women or nursing mothers and should only be given to a pregnant woman if clearly needed.

Gloria Lemay’s Regimen for a Flu-free Pregnancy 

Pneumococcal Vaccination of Pregnant Women Does Not Prevent Infant Infection By Jamie Habib | October 1, 2012

H1N1 and Pregnancy from CMQCC - California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative

Pregnant Women and Novel Influenza A (H1N1): Considerations for Clinicians

The dog ate Roche's Tamiflu homework - Tamiflu, developed to combat influenza, is derived from star anise, a weak natural anti-viral. Roche chemicalized it so it could be patented, and performed trials that didn't go as Roche would have hoped. Tamiflu did not show efficacy.

Tamiflu anti-viral drug revealed as complete hoax; Roche studies based on scientific fraud
Monday, December 14, 2009
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger

H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu): Resources for Pregnant Women from the CDC
General search of CDC web site about swine flu

Vitamin D and H1N1 Swine Flu - evidence vitamin D is protective against H1N1

Does the Vaccine Matter? by Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer

New Study Demonstrates Significant Harm From Just ONE Mercury-Containing Vaccine from Dr. Mercola

H1N1 Vaccine and Thimerosal Exemption from the California Dept. of Public Health

CA permits H1N1 vax with illegally high levels of Mercury for kids & pregnant women

From: ACOG District IX
Date: October 21, 2009 1:05:30 PM PDT
Subject: Important Information Regarding H1N1 Vaccine and Thimerosal Exemption

Dear ACOG, District IX Members,

We received the following letter from Mark B. Horton, MD, MSPH at the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) concerning the exemption for using Thimerosal containing H1N1 vaccine for pregnant women and young children until the vaccine supply becomes stabilized, or at least until the end of November. Please review.

Thank you very much.

In 2004, in order to ensure that pregnant women and children under age 3 years have access to mercury-free vaccines, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 2943 (Pavley, Chapter 837, Statutes of 2004). Under the terms of AB 2943 and Health and Safety Code Section 124172, since July 1, 2006 vaccines containing levels of mercury greater than specified limits cannot be administered to pregnant women and young children, except under certain circumstances.

While many commonly used vaccines administered in the United States are available in ample supplies of mercury-free formulations, there are currently limited supplies of the new vaccine to protect Californians against pandemic (H1M1) influenza [Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine] that have levels of mercury below the state legal limits.

The Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency has granted an exemption to this restriction for Influenza A (H1N1) 2009 Monovalent Vaccine in children younger than 3 years of age and pregnant women from October 12, 2009 - November 30, 2009. The exception is being granted because of the present dangers posed by pandemic (H1N1) influenza and because there are insufficient supplies of thimerosal-free influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent influenza vaccine to comply with the law. The need for an extension of the exemption will be assessed over this period.

In accordance with the intent of the law, during this exemption period physicians should prioritize supplies of thimerosal-free vaccine to young children and pregnant women as long as prioritization does not prevent the immunization of others.

As with other routine vaccines, providers should continue to provide patients and parents or guardians with the specific Vaccine Information Statement (VIS) that lists risks and benefits before immunization. Providers should also discuss the availability of thimerosal-free influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent influenza vaccine with patients, parents and guardians prior to immunization. During this discussion, please consider

    * Children younger than 3 years old are among those recommended to receive 2 doses of vaccine for full protection
     * Pandemic (H1N1) influenza virus is currently circulating in California
    * Whether your patients of any age will have additional opportunities to return for immunization in time to be protected against infection.

For additional information about these topics, please contact the California Department of Public Health's Immunization Branch at (510) 620-3737 or www.getimmunizedca.org.

 (This email was sent on behalf of your ACOG District. If you do not wish to receive these types of emails in the future, please email and request that you be removed from the District email list.)

Why "Herd Immunity" is Moot in Seasonal Flu or Swine Flu by Alix Mayer

NBCI statement on breastfeeding and H1N1

About Swine Flu from The Wolfe Clinic and Dr. Mercola

Russell Blaylock, MD, has a sequence of interviews on Dr. Mercola's site.  In Part 2, around 7:30 into it, he address vaccination during pregnancy: "This time, if they indeed use more powerful adjuvant, we're going to see a lot more Guillain-Barre paralysis, infants are going to die, the pregnant women are going to have babies that have a high risk of developing autism and schizophrenia, which has been shown in the medical literature quite powerfully, that immunization during pregnancy, particularly repetitive the way they're talking about here, can drastically increase the incidence and risk of autism and schizophrenia in the offspring, plus delayed neurological diseases."

He also suggests that the single, most important nutritional preventive of flu is vitamin D3: 2000 IU daily for children, and 5000-10000 IU daily for adults.

He has a nice section on Treatment for Toxic Vaccine Exposure in case you're forced to get vaccinated.  (It's about 3/4 of the way down the page.)

Infectious Disease

Best of the Net - Infections During Pregnancy from perinatology.com

Five ways to avoid germs while traveling (and the rest of the time, too!)

10 Public Hot Spots for Germs from WedMd

You should never wear shoes inside the house, and this is why [1/8/16] - This is especially true if you have young children who roll around and crawl over the floor.

A study done by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. Coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water (and universally present in feces), were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes.

In addition, E. coli was detected on 27% of the shoes, along with seven other kinds of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infection, and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections.

“We walk through things like bird droppings, dog waste and germs on public restroom floors, all of which are sources for E coli,” says Kelly Reynolds, Ph.D., a microbiologist and professor at the University of Arizona.

Researchers then wanted to know about the transfer of bacteria from shoes to uncontaminated home floors. They discovered that the transfer of bacteria from shoes to home floors ranged from 90% to 99%.

Bacterial Infections and Pregnancy [Medscape 9/23/13]

CDC Issues Interim Guidance on Congenital Zika Virus Infection [1/26/16]

Infections of the Fetus and Newborn Infant - (Congenital and Perinatal infections)

Congenital Infections of the Newborn

Infectious Diseases in Pregnancy - from motherisk.org

Infectious pregnancy complications from the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research

General information about common diseases from The Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch of the CDC.

Passive immunization during pregnancy for congenital cytomegalovirus infection.
Nigro G, Adler SP, La Torre R, Best AM; Congenital Cytomegalovirus Collaborating Group.
N Engl J Med. 2005 Sep 29;353(13):1350-62.

CONCLUSIONS: Treatment of pregnant women with CMV-specific hyperimmune globulin is safe, and the findings of this nonrandomized study suggest that it may be effective in the treatment and prevention of congenital CMV infection. A controlled trial of this agent may now be appropriate. Copyright 2005 Massachusetts Medical Society.


Update on TORCH Infections in the Newborn Infant [06/16/2004]

Hand, Foot, & Mouth Disease - Viruses from the group called enteroviruses cause HFMD. The most common cause is coxsackievirus A16; sometimes, HFMD is caused by enterovirus 71 or other enteroviruses. The enterovirus group includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses and other enteroviruses.

Fifth Disease

Pregnancy and Fifth Disease - from the CDC

Parvovirus B19 Infections from the AAFP

Parvovirus B19 Infection - from Medscape.  The Workup section helps you to understand the relevance of different values for IgG and IgM:

I would just draw her Parvo B19 IgG/M titers and then you will know if ANY ‘risk’ even exists; if immune, end of conversation, if neg/neg, I would repeat draw in ~ 4wks even if she never develops any sx (cause I live in C(Y)A).

Books on Pediatric Infectious Diseases


See also: Pharmacy References

Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism - from motherisk.org - Understanding how drugs move through the body and cross the placenta is important in understanding their effects on the pregnancy or fetus. In this section we include studies and review articles that investigate the mechanisms by which drugs transfer across the human placenta and how they affect the fetus.

Drugs in Pregnancy - from motherisk.org

Acid Blockers for Mom During Pregnancy Increase Baby's Risk of Asthma: Presented at AAAAI
March 24, 2008 -- Taking acid-blocking medications for heartburn associated with pregnancy increases the baby's risk of developing asthma by more than 50%.

Maternal Progestin Intake and Risk of Hypospadias
Suzan L. Carmichael, PhD; Gary M. Shaw, DrPH; Cecile Laurent, MS; Mary S. Croughan, PhD; Richard S. Olney, MD; Edward J. Lammer, MD; for the National Birth Defects Prevention Study
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005;159:957-962.

Conclusion  This study found that pregnancy-related intake of progestins was associated with increased hypospadias risk.

I've heard that this study is flawed in that it lumps together synthetic progestins (which are molecules tweaked from testosterone and nor-testosterone) and bio-identical progesterone(which has a different chemical composition and different biological effects).  If you give a pregnant women something that displaces testosterone off its receptors, wouldn't you expect it to have an effect on an organism (the male fetus) that relies on having a normal level of testosterone to develop properly?

I have noticed many questions related to drug effects on early development. In that vein, I thought you might be interested in the following which is taken from Blackburn and Loper, 1992, in Maternal. Retal, and Neonatal Physiology.

"The preembryonic period stage (up to 14 days after conception) is a time of little morphologic differentiation. During the first part of this period, the zygote is protected by the zona pellucida. Exposure to teratogens during this period usually has an all-or-nothing effect. Either the damage is so severe that the zygote is aborted or there are no apparent effects. Teratogens or environmental disturbances may interfere with implantation of the blastocyst or cause death and early abortion. However, most congenital anomalies do not arise during this period....

The period of organogenesis (15 to 60 days after conception)( is a period of extreme sensitivity to teratogens and the period when most congenital malformations develop. Insults early in this period (15 to 30 days) are more like to result in death if the embryo is damaged....

Hopefully for those of you with questions about exposures very close to the time of conception, hopefully this info will help lay those concerns to rest.

According to the FDA, NO drug, either prescription or over the counter, has ever been proven safe for an unborn baby.

Yes, and, . . .

if you read the fine print, you see that it's because no drug can be guaranteed to be 100 percent safe. The same is true of all foods and every other kind of environmental exposure. (It's kind of like trying to prove that Big Foot doesn't exist. You'd have to test every single baby, including the future ones, which is clearly impossible. If I had the energy, I'd rewrite the above so it doesn't sound as if the FDA is testing every single baby to see if they're a Big Foot.)

The best they can do is look for evidence that harm can be demonstrated, and if they find none, then they can only presume (not guarantee) that the substance is safe.

According to Will It Hurt the Baby?", birth defects can only occur during weeks 4 to 12 of pregnancy. Earlier exposures may cause miscarriage, and later exposures may cause slow or altered growth, such as mental retardation that can occur from regular alcohol abuse in later months.

I know there are some caregivers who flat out recommend that pregnant women avoid all tobacco, alcohol, caffeine, non-organic vegetables, and industrial or household chemicals.

I may be in the minority here, but I don't see it as my place as a healthcare provider to provide misleading, partial truths to my clients or consumers in general. I figure that it's my place to tell them the facts related to their situation, and let them make the choices.

That "I know better than they do" attitude is what leads to cesareans for just about any excuse under the sun.

We are a teratogen information service that provides information on exposures to medications, chemicals, drugs/alcohol/cigarettes, illnesses, etc. during pregnancy or lactation. We have been a toll free service for those health care practitioners and patients in the Pacific Northwest, but are now changing our service. We are going to have a 900 number for anyone to call, regardless of geographic location. In addition, for health care providers that feel they will be calling more frequently, we will have subscriptions available to our service on an annual basis.

Our new phone number is 1-900-616-8484. This is a toll call, billed at $3.00 for the first minute, and $2.00 for each additional minute. We want to answer questions efficiently and completely, so will need pertinent information, but we will not try to keep people on the phone longer than necessary. Anyone can call this number.

For subscribers, we will provide a toll free number and they will have unlimited access. This will include written materials and evaluations, when applicable. Subscription fees range from $100 to $300 per year depending on the situation. For more information feel free to email me.

If you or your patients have questions, feel free to call! We answer calls whenever we are here, and not on another line. You will not get charged until we answer the phone. Usually we can be reached 9:00am - 4:30pm Pacific time, Monday through Friday. In September our hours will probably be until later in the evening.

March of Dimes (national HQ) offers this SAME service, FOR FREE. MOD is also a member of OTIS, Organization of Teratogen Information Services, and thinks this information should be available to all consumers at NO CHARGE. They will soon have an 800 number; meanwhile, they can be reached at March of Dimes Resource Center, (914) 997-4750. Your call will be returned within 24 hours.

Inadvertent Fetal Exposure to Antibiotics During Unplanned Pregnancies by Jill Taylor - Care should be taken when treating women of child-bearing age for urinary tract infection.

Drugs given during pregnancy may not be safe - [2004-09-17 Reuters Health]

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - More than a third of pregnant women are prescribed medications for which there is no evidence that they're safe to use during pregnancy, investigators report.

Common drugs linked to sex drive - Using anti-inflammatories during pregnancy may affect fetus' adult conduct.   Known as COX-2 inhibitors, this class of anti-inflammatories includes aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen and indomethacin.  [A related article from Reuters]

Study Reveals a Possible Downside of Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy
[11/6/13] - Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol.  I strongly urge pregnant women to seek holistic solutions to discomforts rather than take acetaminophen.

Prenatal Acetaminophen Linked to Behavioral Problems in Kids [2/24/14] - Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen ― a drug considered safe in pregnancy ― may raise the risk for behavioral problems in children, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and hyperkinetic disorder (HKD), a severe form of ADHD, new research suggests.

In Utero Exposure to Antibiotics May Increase Risk of Allergic Disease

"Women who take antibiotics during pregnancy may increase their child's risk of allergic diseases such as asthma, hay fever, or eczema" and "This effect did not appear to depend on the type of antibiotic or the trimester the antibiotics were prescribed in."

The importance of prenatal exposures on the development of allergic disease: a birth cohort study using the West Midlands General Practice Database.
McKeever TM, Lewis SA, Smith C, Hubbard R.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2002 Sep 15;166(6):827-32

Claim That Dextromethorphan Causes Birth Defects Not Supported in Humans

Nasal Decongestants Suspected of Causing Heart Defects

ANECDOTAL ONLY --- I've had experience with only two babies with diagnosed heart defects. This one and a hypoplastic Right side who died about 18 hours. Both of these moms were DAILY users of nosedrop decongestants; they both described themselves as being "hooked" on them for years.

Now; anecdotally only; these two cases only; I have never had heavy decongestant users other than these two, never had HD either -- and I'm so tempted to wonder if there is a connection between use of OTC decongestants and HD........

More anecdotal: My one stillbirth baby had a heart defect incompatible with life and the Mom was a heavy decongestant (OTC) user. I was an apprentice and don't recall the exact type of HD, but just remember those words "incompatible with life". She was also Down's, but the autopsy said not the kind that usually die. I guess my memory is too fuzzy about this, and obviously the HD could have been totally due to something else. But I always wondered.

Depression and Anti-depressant Medications

See also: Herbs for Anxiety, General Pregnancy Anxiety, Depression During Pregnancy and Visualization and Self-Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy/Hypnobirthing

Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy and Congenital Cardiac Defects [9/9/14] - From a clinical perspective, the increased risk for defects is very small and has to be weighed against the risk for untreated depression, which is likely to be substantially higher.

Antidepressants reach fetus through amniotic fluid

Antidepressants in amniotic fluid: another route of fetal exposure.
Loughhead AM, Fisher AD, Newport DJ, Ritchie JC, Owens MJ, DeVane CL, Stowe ZN.
Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;163(1):145-7.

 CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of antidepressant concentrations in amniotic fluid is similar to recent data for placental passage. Although the significance of amniotic fluid exposure remains to be determined, these results demonstrate that maternally administered antidepressants are accessible to the fetus in a manner not previously appreciated.

Women Fearful of Effects of Antidepressants During Pregnancy

Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy May Increase Miscarriage Risk

Infants Born to Women Taking Antidepressants at Increased Risk of Withdrawal Symptoms for First Weeks of Life, Study Says [May 18, 2005]

Neonatal signs after late in utero exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitors: literature review and implications for clinical applications.
Moses-Kolko EL, Bogen D, Perel J, Bregar A, Uhl K, Levin B, Wisner KL.
JAMA. 2005 May 18;293(19):2372-83.

CONCLUSIONS: Available evidence indicates that in utero exposure to SRIs during the last trimester through delivery may result in a self-limited neonatal behavioral syndrome that can be managed with supportive care. The risks and benefits of discontinuing an SRI during pregnancy need to be carefully weighed for each individual patient. Development and validation of assessment methods and clinical management strategies are critical to advancing this research. [Ed.: These are maybe not the best homebirth candidates!!!]

Antidepressants to Come with Pregnancy Precaution - 6/9/04 - "Drug makers are adding a notice to widely used antidepressants that babies of women who take the drugs late in pregnancy may experience jitteriness and other withdrawal symptoms"

Maternal selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor use during pregnancy and newborn neurobehavior.
Zeskind PS, Stephens LE.
Pediatrics. 2004 Feb;113(2):368-75.

"Results provide the first systematic evidence that women who use SSRIs during pregnancy have healthy, full-birth-weight newborn infants who show disruptions in a wide range of neurobehavioral outcomes. Effects on motor activity, startles, and HRV may be mediated through the effects of SSRI exposure on gestational age. Future research can lead to a better understanding of the effects of SSRI use during pregnancy and an improved public health outcome."

FDA Advising of Risk of Birth Defects with Paxil - [12/8/05] - new studies for Paxil (paroxetine) suggest that the drug increases the risk for birth defects, particularly heart defects, when women take it during the first three months of pregnancy.

Antidepressant Use by Moms-To-Be May Affect Baby - 2/2/04

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Certain antidepressants taken by mothers during pregnancy can lead to disturbed behavior in their offspring, according to the results of a small study. Antidepressants like Prozac or Paxil, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), have previously been shown not to cause birth defects, the authors explain in the medical journal Pediatrics. However, only a few studies have looked at the potential neurobehavioral effects of these medications on newborns. Dr. Philip Sanford Zeskind and Laura E. Stephens from the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, examined the neurobehavior of 34 newborn infants.

Maternal SSRI Use During Pregnancy May Disrupt Newborn Neurobehavior

AAP's bulletin on Use of Psychoactive Medication During Pregnancy and Possible Effects on the Fetus and Newborn (RE9866)

More so than other similar antidepressants, paroxetine (Paxil) use late in pregnancy seems to be associated with higher rates of neonatal complications; but that does not mean women should not take the drug. [5/02]

Prozac and Pregnancy

Antidepressants OK for pregnant women

Counseling As Effective As Prozac for Postpartum Depression

We have several women on them at the clinic i work at. We don't taper them off to prevent withdrawal in baby and haven't seen a problem yet at all.....there are varying opinions about what is the best strategy, some say use Prozac in pregnancy, then change to Zoloft for breastfeeding because of their profiles, but many therapists think it is dangerous to taper women or change them at such a vulnerable time because a woman who needs the SSRI, is at a much higher risk of postpartum depression and taking them off or changing right at that time can make it much worse......so i don't think there is clear consensus on it; i have talked to several psychiatrists and OBs about it and have heard many different opinions on what is best, but in practice i think most leave them on it and don't taper...............If they need it they really need it postpartum..........anyway that is what i have gleaned over time.

From our local Doctor of Chiropractic / Certified Clinical Nutritionist:

"Since Prozac is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and since 95% of the serotonin in the body is produced Enterochromaffin Cells (EC) of the gastrointestinal or GI tract (Gershon M. Review article: serotonin receptors and transporters: roles in normal and abnormal gastrointestinal motility. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2004;20(suppl 7):3-14.), anything that influences serotonin production in the brain has a significant effect on the GI tract.and visa-versa.  Thus, nutrient absorption is affected.  Not only that, since approximately 60% of your immune system function is associated with the GI tract, you can set up a dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora and blunting of the microvilli of the mucosal lining) and imblanced immune system function for the mother and the baby.  Imbalanced immune system atopic skin conditions in children associated with our western culture presently.  This results from skewing of the T-helper cells (either T helper type 1.called Th1 or T helper type 2.called Th2) of our immune system being imbalanced to either a Th-1 or Th-2 predominance, thereby leading to various chronic diseases, depending on the mothers environmental factors such as diet, pre-pregnancy nutritional status, stress load before and during pregnancy, cleanliness or over-cleanliness and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-thyroid function before and during pregnancy.

For all these reasons, and more, I discourage anyone from taking SSRI antidepressants before, during or after pregnancy.  There are basic nutrient factors that help considerably with the underlying biochemistry of depression, (that are not only safe to use pre-pregnancy and during pregnancy, but very necessary to use!)  particularly the L-5 methyltetrahydrofolate form of folic acid, the pyridoxyl-5-phosphate form of vitamin B6, and the methylcobalamin or adenosylcobalamin form of vitamin B12.

EMF, Electromagnetic Fields and Electronic Devices - Electro Pollution

There is some research to show that the developing embryo relies on the electromagnetic field from the mother’s heart to orient the anatomic development of the fetus.  It is thought that this may be why a human embryo cannot be grown in the laboratory past a very early developmental stage.

I strongly encourage you to do what you can easily do to reduce your personal exposure to the various forms of energy that our electronic devices create around us: turn off your WiFi and wireless phone systems when you’re sleeping, or at least keep them out of your bedroom, and keep your devices at least 2 feet away from your body when not in use.  The more powerful the device, the more important that you not wear it directly on your body.

Most pregnant women tend to have an elevated body temperature, so they generally wouldn't be using electric blankets, but if you need a little something extra beyond a fluffy down comforter, consider one of those new electric blankets that use fiber optics to conduct the heat.

Full Signal - 61-minute documentary, 12/09 - Full Signal talks to scientists around the world who are researching the health effects related to cellular technology

Study suggests mobile phone use during pregnancy may cause ADHD in offspring - Yale School of Medicine researchers have looked at the possible effects on fetuses of mobile phone use by pregnant mothers. According to the study, mobile phone radiation exposure in the womb can affect the brain development of offspring and potentially lead to behavioral disorders such as hyperactivity.

Fetal radiofrequency radiation exposure from 800-1900 mhz-rated cellular telephones affects neurodevelopment and behavior in mice. [full text]
Aldad TS, Gan G, Gao XB, Taylor HS.
Sci Rep. 2012;2:312. Epub 2012 Mar 15.

Neurobehavioral disorders are increasingly prevalent in children, however their etiology is not well understood. An association between prenatal cellular telephone use and hyperactivity in children has been postulated, yet the direct effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure on neurodevelopment remain unknown. Here we used a mouse model to demonstrate that in-utero radiofrequency exposure from cellular telephones does affect adult behavior. Mice exposed in-utero were hyperactive and had impaired memory as determined using the object recognition, light/dark box and step-down assays. Whole cell patch clamp recordings of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) revealed that these behavioral changes were due to altered neuronal developmental programming. Exposed mice had dose-responsive impaired glutamatergic synaptic transmission onto layer V pyramidal neurons of the prefrontal cortex. We present the first experimental evidence of neuropathology due to in-utero cellular telephone radiation. Further experiments are needed in humans or non-human primates to determine the risk of exposure during pregnancy.

Neurological Effects of Wireless Technologies from Sage Associates, an environmental consulting

Maternal use of cell phones during pregnancy is reported to be associated with altered fetal brain development, which is expressed in serious behavioral difficulties in children by the time they reach school age (Divan et al, 2008).

Prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioral problems in children.
Divan HA, Kheifets L, Obel C, Olsen J.
Epidemiology. 2008 Jul;19(4):523-9.

BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization has emphasized the need for research into the possible effects of radiofrequency fields in children. We examined the association between prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones and behavioral problems in young children. METHODS: Mothers were recruited to the Danish National Birth Cohort early in pregnancy. When the children of those pregnancies reached 7 years of age in 2005 and 2006, mothers were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding the current health and behavioral status of children, as well as past exposure to cell phone use. Mothers evaluated the child's behavior problems using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. RESULTS: Mothers of 13,159 children completed the follow-up questionnaire reporting their use of cell phones during pregnancy as well as current cell phone use by the child. Greater odds ratios for behavioral problems were observed for children who had possible prenatal or postnatal exposure to cell phone use. After adjustment for potential confounders, the odds ratio for a higher overall behavioral problems score was 1.80 (95% confidence interval = 1.45-2.23) in children with both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones. CONCLUSIONS: Exposure to cell phones prenatally-and, to a lesser degree, postnatally-was associated with behavioral difficulties such as emotional and hyperactivity problems around the age of school entry. These associations may be noncausal and may be due to unmeasured confounding. If real, they would be of public health concern given the widespread use of this technology.

Solutions to reduce EMF exposure

How to find out your level of exposure from communications towers? AntennaSearch.com

Electromagnetic Fields - EMF Information for Your Personal Safety from Dr. Mercola.

Electro Pollution - Our mandate is to educate and prevent EMF & cell phone radiation from harming you. Our research and products are backed by support of industry leaders with a common goal; your health.

Public Health Sos: The Shadow Side Of The Wireless Revolution by Camilla Rees and Magda Havas Ph.D. (Paperback - April 26, 2009)

Powerwatch is a non-profit independent organisation with a central role in the UK Electromagnetic Field and Microwave Radiation health debate. We work closely with decision-makers in government and business, and with other like-minded groups, promoting policies for a safer environment. We have been researching electromagnetic field effects on health for the last 20 years, and provide a range of information to help the general public understand this complex issue.

Reducing EMF in Your Home from Your Own Health and Fitness - KPFA broadcast date 4/7/2009

Environmental consultant Michael R. Neuert, MA, BSME, discusses common EMF exposures in the home, their effects, and how to reduce and eliminate them. Resources: Neuert Electromagnetic Services www.emfcenter.com; Resources on radiation and resources on environmental health

Cell phones and radiation: 10 best and 10 worst

Warning: Using a mobile phone while pregnant can seriously damage your baby By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Study of 13,000 children exposes link between use of handsets and later behavioural problems

Regulating Wireless Radiation from Your Own Health and Fitness - KPFA broadcast date 3/17/2009

Environmental consultant Cindy Sage of Sage EMF Design, lead author with David Carpenter of the Bioinitiative Report, discusses how Europe is responding to the current science about the dangers associated with microwave, wireless, and cellphone radiation. Resources: Bioinitiative Report www.bioinitiative.org; Collaborative on Health and the Environment EMF Working Group www.healthandenvironment.org/working_groups/emf; Resources on radiation and resources on health politics

Higher Cancer Rates In Under-18 Cell Phone Users

Brain Damage From Mobile Phone Radiation from Dr. Mercola.

On a side note, in the UK they are dropping children's mobile phone safety guidelines ...

High EMF Risk from Personal Organizers - excellent radio show from April 3, 2007

EM Radiation Research Trust


Pregnancy and Radiation from the Health Physics Society

Environmental consultant Cindy Sage discusses the latest research on wireless technology's possible risks to humans and the environment.  PDA exposures from blackberry and treo units, among others, create exceptionally high exposures when worn on or very near the body. She will discuss these exposures, their possible health consequences, and ways to reduce exposure. Resources: Sage Associates www.sageassociates.net; Resources on environmental health and resources on radiation: wireless, EMR, RFR, and ionizing radiation

Pollution and Chemical Teratogens

See also: Drinking Water, Water Bottles and other Plastics, Personal Care Products

Healthy Stuff tested 5,000 products for unhealthy chemicals, and created a handy searchable database so consumers can access the results.

The Toxic Baby (Must Watch TED Talk) - 26 October, 2014 - Could the chemicals you are exposed to during pregnancy affect your unborn child? This is a must watch TED talk!

The Most Dangerous Types of Water You Can Drink from Dr. Mercola

WATER FOR HEALTH AND LONGEVITY by Lawrence Wilson, MD - I don't agree with everything he writes, but it's good food for thought.

Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Harm Kids' Brains
- Common Crop Pesticide Chlorpyrifos May Be Linked With Structural Changes in Developing Brain, Experts Find [4/30/12]
Prenatal exposure to a pesticide used on many crops may be linked with abnormal changes in a child's developing brain, scientists report.

Compared to children with low prenatal exposure, those with high exposure to the pesticide chlorpyrifos had abnormalities in the cortex (the outer area of the brain), says Virginia Rauh, ScD, professor and deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

The cortex helps govern intelligence, personality, muscle movement, and other tasks.

Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Harm Kids' Brains [Medscape - 5/2/12]

DANGEROUS TOXINS FROM GMOs FOUND IN WOMEN AND FETUSES - When U.S. regulators approved Monsanto’s genetically modified “Bt” corn, they knew it would introduce a deadly poison into our food supply, because that’s what it was designed to do: the corn’s DNA is equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that produces the Bttoxin— a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them. Monsanto and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) swore it was only insects that would be hurt; they claimed the Bt-toxin would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and not have any health impact on consumers. A study has just proved them wrong. Doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found the corn’s Bt-toxin in the blood of pregnant women and their babies, as well as in non-pregnant women. (Specifically, the toxin was identified in 93% of 30 pregnant women, 80% of umbilical blood in their babies, and 67% of 39 non-pregnant women.) The study has been accepted for publication in Reproductive Toxicology. [May 2011, Institute for Responsible Technology; read entire article here.]

Prenatal Exposure to Dioxin-Like PCBs Interferes With Brain Development [9/14/09] - Prenatal exposure to a particular category of dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) is associated with the strongest detrimental effects on fetal neurodevelopment, new research suggests.

There's increasing evidence that the developing egg/embryo/fetus are very sensitive to environmental contaminants.

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute - Center for Environmental Oncology

The Twin Cities Green Guide

The Environmental Working Group offers a very compact shopper's guide to getting the smallest amount of pesticides in your food at the least cost.  The results are far from intuitively obvious, so this is really useful.

Environmental Toxins Associated With Recurrent Pregnancy Loss

Body Burden — The Pollution in Newborns - A benchmark investigation of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in umbilical cord blood

Health & Safety Information on Household Products from the NIH

TOXNET - Toxicology Data Network from the National Library of Medicine

A Silent Pandemic: Industrial Chemicals Are Impairing Brain Development Of Children Worldwide

Teflon and Scotchguard as major offenders.

You can read more about Environmental causes of infertility and miscarriage

PVC - The Poison Plastic

Potential Residential Exposure to Toxics Release Inventory Chemicals during Pregnancy and Childhood Brain Cancer

Potential residential exposure to toxics release inventory chemicals during pregnancy and childhood brain cancer. [full text]
Choi HS, Shim YK, Kaye WE, Ryan PB.
Environ Health Perspect. 2006 Jul;114(7):1113-8.

CONCLUSIONS: Risk of childhood brain cancers may be associated with living near a TRI [polluting] facility; however, this is an exploratory study and further studies are needed.

How to Avoid the Top 10 Most Common Toxins by Dr. Mercola.  Read down the page for his "Tips to Avoid Toxins".

Prenatal pesticide exposure damages the brain [3/16/06]
Source: Pediatrics 2006; 117: 546-56

Exposure to pesticides in the womb may leave children with high blood pressure and a reduced ability to copy geometric figures, a study of children in Ecuador suggests.

Pesticide exposure and stunting as independent predictors of neurobehavioral deficits in Ecuadorian school children.
Grandjean P, Harari R, Barr DB, Debes F.
Pediatrics. 2006 Mar;117(3):e546-56.

CONCLUSION: Prenatal pesticide exposure may cause lasting neurotoxic damage and add to the adverse effects of malnutrition in developing countries. The effects differ from those due to acute pesticide exposure.

Maternal Pesticide Exposure Linked to Childhood Leukemia

In a discussion of Having Faith, a book written about her pregnancy, Sandra Steingraber says, "Being aware of environmental dangers to children's health seemed part of my new responsibility as an expectant mother -- in the same way that infant car-seat recalls and pediatric vaccination schedules were. And yet, oddly, most popular guidebooks on pregnancy encourage mothers-to-be not to dwell too much on environmental dangers that seem to exist outside their individual ability to control."

Disinfection byproducts may hinder fetal growth
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology 2006: 163: 38-47

Estimating the effects of disinfection byproducts in drinking water on birth weights among a population served by a single water utility.

The risk of having a low-birth-weight baby may be influenced by levels of disinfectant used to treat drinking water, particularly among non-Caucasians, public health experts report.

Previous research has suggested that exposure to the disinfection byproducts trihalomethanes during pregnancy might impair fetal growth but most epidemiologic studies have used relatively crude measures of exposure and did not look at racial and ethnic subgroups.

For the latest study, C. Lewis (University of California, Los Angeles, USA) and colleagues looked at a large racially diverse population that received drinking water from the same public utility in Massachusetts. Vital records data obtained for the population between 1999 and 2001 were studied, along with weekly measurements of trihalomethanes in the water system.

The researchers found that a high average total exposure to trihalomethanes, of 70 microg/l or more, during the second trimester was associated with a 50 percent increased risk of term low birth weight in singleton births. This risk was much lower in Caucasian women than in African-American, Hispanic, and Asian women combined (37 percent vs 60 percent).

"The study suggest that high levels of trihalomethanes experienced during the second trimester and pregnancy overall may affect fetal growth," concludes the research team.

Posted: 22 December 2005

Early Exposure to Combustion Gases Raises Risk of Childhood Cancers

Oil combustion and childhood cancers.
Knox EG.
J Epidemiol Community Health. 2005 Sep;59(9):755-60.

CONCLUSIONS: Childhood cancers are strongly determined by prenatal or early postnatal exposures to oil based combustion gases, especially from engine exhausts. 1,3-butadiene, a known carcinogen, may be directly causal.

ReproTox - An Information System on Environmental Hazards to Human Reproduction and Development

Air Pollution Damages Babies in Womb - Study [2/15/05] - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Babies' DNA can be damaged even before they are born if their mothers breathe polluted air, according to a study published on Tuesday. [Ed. - It can be scary to pregnant women to think that there's not much they can do about the quality of the air they're breathing, but most indoor air pollution is actually caused by chemicals that you bring into your own home.  Human Milk - Still the Best Choice discusses the ways that you can control the chemicals that enter your body.]

Indoor Air Pollution [6/15/16] - from Dr. Mercola - Regardless of your local outdoor air pollution, there are some easy things you can do to improve your indoor air quality!

Pollution, fetal changes linked in study [2/16/05] - A study of New York City newborns suggests that prenatal exposure to air pollution may be linked to genetic changes associated with an increased risk of cancer, researchers have said.

Molecular evidence of an interaction between prenatal environmental exposures and birth outcomes in a multiethnic population.
Perera FP, Rauh V, Whyatt RM, Tsai WY, Bernert JT, Tu YH, Andrews H, Ramirez J, Qu L, Tang D.
Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Apr;112(5):626-30.

"This study provides evidence that combined exposure to environmental pollutants at levels currently encountered in New York City adversely affects fetal development."

Human Milk - Still the Best Choice by Rachel Mosteller
This great article from La Leche League discusses the chemical hazards that can be passed through to babies in breastmilk, but it's even more important to observe these guidelines during pregnancy!

Canada Study Details Pregnancy Chemical Hazard - [Oct 4, 2004] - Children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy to common workplace chemicals scored lower on tests measuring language skills, attention and memory, researchers said on Monday.

Organic solvents such as ethanol, mineral spirits and acrylic resin are found in facilities ranging from medical laboratories and dry cleaning shops to nail salons. They are easily inhaled and can penetrate the skin.

Common Solvents Tied to Birth Defects
- [10/3/12] - Pregnant women with frequent exposure to solvents at work may be at higher risk of having babies with birth defects, French researchers say. Both self-reported exposure and urine samples supported the link between the chemicals and malformations such as cleft palate and limb deformities.

The Chemical Scorecard - Just type in your zip code and find out what chemicals are being released into your neighborhood environment by manufacturing plants, which of these chemicals are potentially the most harmful, and what companies are responsible.

A New Chemical Headache: Solvents May Injure Unborn Brains - We’ve known for years that exposure to any number of chemicals can cause developing fetuses physical harm. From chlorinated hormone disruptors to cancer-causing hydrocarbons, the list of developmental problems that can be caused by pre-natal exposure to synthetic compounds is almost as long as the list of chemicals itself. The growing list includes the latest research from the University of Toronto, where scientists have discovered that in-utero contact with petroleum-based solvents can harm mental abilities later in life.

Locate the Watershed for your water supply and check out the environmental profile.

Teratogens in our Everyday Environment

Remember - if you can smell it, the molecules are in the mucous membranes of your nose and mouth and in your bloodstream.

Avoid hair styling salons where you can smell chemicals. Avoid synthetic perfumes, which includes most commercial scents. You can use organically processed essential oils for fragrance.

Dry cleaners and copy shops are also horrible places for pregnant women!

Occupational/Environmental Exposures - from motherisk.org

Is Pregnancy Safe for Women Working in Chemistry Labs?

Chlorine in the Shower and Swimming Pool

Chlorine, pollution and the environment

The substance used to chlorinate swimming pools is usually a salt (sodium hypochlorite) which contains very little free chlorine. Organochlorines do occur in swimming pools, but these do not include the highly toxic dioxins.

Synthetic Organic Chemicals and Birth Defects

Toxins inhaled and absorbed through the skin can be more dangerous than ingested toxins - showering, bathing and other activities which involve hot water are particularly dangerous.  Avoid being around the dishwasher when it's running.  Swimming pools may be a source of significant exposure.


Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, (NSAID), like aspirin, naprosyn, and indocin. As such, it is an anti-prostaglandin, and should be used with extreme caution in pregnancy. Indocin is given to newborns with a patent ductus arteriosus to close it and convert from fetal to extra-uterine circulation. There is some concern that giving indocin to stop preterm labor might prematurely close the ductus arteriosus and cause problems, but to my knowledge this has not happened. Still, NSAIDs are not drugs I would want to have someone use during pregnancy without a very good reason and understanding of the consequences. And, if an NSAID were to be needed, I would prefer aspirin, as it has the longest track record of safety in general.

Herbicides Linked to Infant Health Problems

Texas Soil May Contain Teratogens

Sperm more Susceptible to Toxic Substances

On 03-20-1991, in a unanimous ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Automobile Workers v. Johnson Controls that excluding women from jobs in which toxic substances exposure could injure a woman's ability to safely conceive was unconstitutional. Medical experts had testified that men exposed to toxic substances, not women, were more likely to cause birth defects because men's reproductive glands and fluids were more exposed than women's. Men's sperm is affected on a daily basis by toxic substances, etc., while a woman's eggs are already formed at birth.

General Household Concerns

See also: Fragrances

Reducing your exposure to PBDEs in your home

Drinking Water

EWG’s UPDATED Water Filter Buying Guide - Find the right filter for your water – and budget

Obviously, there is mixed research about drinking water.  If it's possible to drink spring water from a reputable source, that seems optimal.

Distilled Water

What is Distilled water? from distilledwaterassociation.org - Distilled water is the purest water.

Adding Minerals to Distilled Water is very EASY - If you're concerned that you're not getting enough minerals from your food, here are some tips for how to compensate for the minerals lost in distillation that would otherwise be present in spring water. [NOTE - The Juice Plus capsules are very good for the ACE and folate vitamins, but they're not a significant source of minerals, and they don't list trace minerals.]

Why You Should Drink Distilled Water by Dr. David Williams [7/1/15] - I have a lot of respect for Dr. David Williams, so I am giving this some more thought.  If my current RO unit fails, I would consider getting the home distillation unit he recommends; the cost is around $400.  The more I read about distilled water, the more sense it makes.  It's a lot simpler than all the complicated plumbed-in filtering systems; it's also much simpler than wondering which methods remove which problems.  And you don't have to purchase or replace any filters. 

Water fluoridation, at levels 20 times lower than EPA standards, increases hypothyroidism [4/16/15] - (NaturalNews) Water fluoridation may cause hypothyroidism at levels dramatically lower than the maximum level allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Kent and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a British Medical Journal (BMJ) publication.

What is most important to you in a water filter? The Environmental Working Group has excellent suggestions for different budgets.

Prescription drugs found in drinking water across U.S. - CNN.com

Study: Tap water poses little pregnancy risk (Reuters) [] - Although some studies have suggested that certain chemical byproducts in tap water raise a woman's risk of miscarriage, new research suggests that the threat is small, if it exists at all.

Tap water may hurt pregnant women

A prospective study of spontaneous abortion: relation to amount and source of drinking water consumed in early pregnancy.
Swan SH, Waller K, Hopkins B, Windham G, Fenster L, Schaefer C, Neutra RR.
Epidemiology. 1998 Mar;9(2):126-33.

Environmental Health Investigations Branch, Department of Health Services, Emeryville, CA, USA.

This study confirms the association between cold tapwater and spontaneous abortion first seen in this county in 1980. If causal, the agent(s) is not ubiquitous but is likely to have been present in Region I for some time.

From: C-reuters@clari.net (Reuters)
Organization: Copyright 1997 by Reuters
Date: Tue, 12 Aug 1997 1:00:38 PDT
The Environmental Working Group says the drinking water of 4.3 million Americans during the last year had concentrations of pesticides exceeding new federal standards of acceptable risk. The study also showed that people in farm areas, particularly the Midwestern corn belt, were being served a cocktail of farm chemicals in their tap water. The worst example was Williamsburg, Ohio, where 10 weedkillers and other chemicals were found in a glassful of water. But, despite the seemingly grim report, a spokesman for the group says U.S. drinking water may be improving. He says in a number of cities efforts to improve water quality are producing results.

Not all bottled waters are equal.  There is a huge difference between bottled tap water (Dasani, Aquafina, Propel, etc.), bottled spring water (Calistoga, Poland Spring, etc.), bottled artesian water (Fiji), and bottled mineral water (Gerolsteiner, Perrier, Evian, Apolonaris, Vichy, Pellegrino, etc.).    The differences in waters is much more commonly known in Europe, and there is more awareness around the benefits of drinking the different kinds of mineral waters available in their countries.  Also, there is a difference between waters sold in glass vs. plastic bottles.
A member of my family is an expert in water, and here is a part of his email response to this article:

What they leave out is the simple fact that bottled spring or mineral water normally meets stricter standards than tap water and that bottled spring or mineral water usually has not traveled through hundreds of miles of pipe to sit in a reservoir where birds poop in it, fish breed in it, and then it is cleaned up using toxic chlorine which creates trihalamethanes and mutants, from the resultant carbon compounds left in the water from the aforementioned animal activity. These stay in the water no matter what kind of additional filters people use. The chlorine smell people detect in their tap water is actually from chloramines, the very compounds to which I refer.

In short, this type of article has been written since 1979 when Perrier first appeared.  The one truth in the article with which I totally agree is that tap water makes up a huge amount of the bottled water industry and it is indeed a waste of money and all the resources they talk about.

Spring or mineral water is another story. Bottled reasonably close to the source, even if it involves trucking, it is pure and natural unlike any tap water out there and no chlorine is used.  Ozone, manganese greensand and UV are used as they do not leave residual problems in the already clean spring or mineral water.  Public water managers like chlorine because it is a broad-spectrum oxidant that can bind up the pathogens found in surface waters used as tap water. The resultant chemical compounds formed by chlorine are the problem, and the reason why bottled water is far superior to almost any tap water out there.

There are exceptions and I offer [deleted] tap water in the town of [deleted] as one. The provider of this water has a deep, rural well with no organics present so the chlorine he adds is benign. It meets State standards without forming the huge chains of chemical compounds found in most tap water.

Water Bottles and other Plastic Food Containers

What Plastics Do to Your Body

New concerns raised on safety of chemical in plastics  - Government toxicologists have reiterated safety concerns about a chemical used in baby bottles and food containers, just weeks after the Food and Drug Administration declared the substance safe.

Eight years ago, we thought Nalgene bottles were fine for pregnant women.  At this point, and given the rate of anomalies I'm seeing in baby boys, I recommend that my clients use non-plastic water bottles.  I especially like the Sigg bottles, available online from swissbottle.com

On the Trail of Water Bottle Toxins...from the Non-Toxic Times Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 6  -  April 2004

Toxin in plastics harming unborn boys - Scientists say chemicals have gender bending effect by Ian Sample, science correspondent - 5/27/05 - The Guardian

Toxic Compounds in Food Containers Wreak Havoc on Your Health from Dr. Mercola.

Klean Kanteen - Reusable, lightweight, and risk-free stainless steel

The Biota compostable bottle is made from corn!

And while you're thinking about the issue, think of baby bottles and sippy cups, too!  Born Free has better solutions.

Thalates Can Cause Birth Defects, Cancer [4/23/07] - Thalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics, making them more flexible.

Dangers of Plastics By Randall Neustaedter OMD, LAc, CCH | Published 07/18/2004

Bottled water is here to stay, a booming industry that grosses more than $7 billion dollars a year in the US. Water is good, hydration is essential, especially when exercising, which is also good. But the bottle you drink from may be dangerous to your health.

Polycarbonate water bottles (labeled #7) contain bisphenol A (BPA), which leaches from the plastic even at room temperature and has been linked to chromosome damage and hormone disruption. These are the types of plastic Nalgene water bottles found in sports stores. #1 PET or PETE bottles (polyethylene terephthalate) may leach DEHA, a known carcinogen, if used more than once. Additionally, your water bottle that has been refilled is likely to contain potentially harmful bacteria that grow on saliva, food particles, and fecal material from unwashed hands. Many people have reported getting diarrhea from their reused water bottles. Washing bottles with hot water and detergent or a rinse with bleach will sanitize them, but also leaches harmful chemicals out of the plastic.

What to do?

Use metal bottles. A Swiss company, SIGG, makes colorful and safe aluminum drinking bottles lined with an impermeable alloy.  They're available online from swissbottle.com. They can be found on the Internet. The best price and the greatest variety of choices I have found in the US is at www.momovelo.com in the sundries/liquids section. They offer both children’s and adult’s sizes and designs.  Many other sites carry SIGG bottles as well. Thermos makes stainless steel bottles for both hot and cold drinks or soups at www.thermos.com. Wash these bottles and their tops with hot water by hand after use. Dishwashers may not get into the narrow mouths of water bottles to clean their interiors.

Safer plastic containers are polyethylene #2 and #4 (High density  HDPE #2 and Low density LDPE #4). HDPE is used for milk, water, juice, and yogurt containers. LDPE is used for squeezable bottles (honey, mustard, etc.).

Buy food products packaged in glass whenever possible. Use glass containers for storing leftovers.

Relatively safe:

Unsafe Never use

5 second organic chemistry lesson:

Polypropylene is propylene repeated a couple thousand times (some times with ethylene (one less carbon)). What dose this mean? That they start with 3 carbons and 6 hydrogens. The carbons are in a row and the hydrogens are off the carbons with a double bond between two of the carbons (there are fewer hydrogen molecules on the two double bonded carbons). The source of these propylene guys is usually from the sludge that is left over after they make your gasoline from raw crude (they take that sludge and heat it to extreme temperatures and get small organic compounds out). There are other sources like corn. They takes these and use another chemical called a catalyst (this can vary in what they use) to make the monomer into a polymer.  Then depending on the application and what properties they are looking for (clear, opaque, flexibly rigid, etc.) they will add other chemicals.

Possible health issues to all this? Mainly all the chemicals they add. They don't add Bisphenol A like they do in polycarbonate, BUT they still add all kinds of crap (most of which has not been rigorously tested for health concerns). The biggest concern with polypropylene is that the chain itself can start coming apart when exposed to UV light. There is UV light in sunlight (to stop this they sometimes add  UV-absorbing additives (more chemicals)).

Bottom line? I have worked in a chemical plant (it made surfactants and polypropylene and food additive among other things) it is a nasty place... All plastics (even the happy corn based "renewable" kind) come from a place like that.  They are all going to leach something. Some are worse then others. In our modern world I don't know that we can 100% get away from it. The main thing to do with all plastics is keep them at room temp, out of the sun, away from acidic foods, and NEVER put them in the microwave.

The following is a quote, straight from SIGG:

"The proprietary SIGG bottle lining is a water-based, non-toxic coating that is baked into the interior walls and remains flexible and crack resistant for the life of the bottle....Due to the finish of the liner, there is much less chance for bacteria build-up with a SIGG as opposed to plastic containers."

"The (lining) formula has not been released, since it is proprietary, but we have been working with them and they have agreed to release it soon. The liner has undergone extensive tests in Switzerland and Germany. The liner absolutely does not leach Bisphenol-A or other potential toxins. We have conducted our own tests in the US with a California lab, and they confirmed the European findings. So, the best I can do at this time is to assure you that the liner is completely safe, does not leach plastic products, contains no petroleum products, and exceeds all associated FDA requirements for food liners. The additional information will be released soon from Switzerland." -- Ron Peters of SIGG USA

Furthermore, "bottles made by the manufacturer Sigg, market leader in both Switzerland and Germany, showed no traces of aluminum...the manufacturer Sigg shows that it is possible to avoid residue from synthetic coating. Rolf Kothrade, responsible for aluminium bottles at Sigg, explains that his company changed the entire production process two years ago and now uses a water-based interior coating." -- OKO-TEST July 1997 (Independent German Consumer Test Magazine).

Teflon and Nonstick Cookware

Apparently mercola.com is now carrying low-cost enamel-coated cast iron cookware.  [I wans't able to find them, but you might, and the savings are worth your time.]

dangers of teflon cookware - a metacollection of links

Chronology of Teflon/Scotchgard (PFCs) Content from the Environmental Working Group

Scanpan addresses the question: "Recent news reports (January 2006) seem to make a case for nonstick pans being unsafe to use. Is that so, and if not, why not?"  They say that the carcinogenic chemical is involved in the manufacture of nonstick coatings, but that none is actually carried on the finished product.

Is Nonstick Cookware Safe? from about.com

Fragrances and Incense

Fragrances show up in all sorts of personal care and household products.  Whereas true perfumes are from botanical sources, modern "perfumes" are chemical and can be toxic or carcinogenic.

Anne C. Steinemann, PhD., specializes in water resources and environmental management.  She has (co)authored several cutting-edge papers on the subject:

“Prevalence of Fragrance Sensitivity in the American Population .” (with S. Caress) Journal of Environmental Health 71(7): 46-50, 2009.  [PDF]

“National Population Study of Asthma’s Prevalence, Etiology, Age of Onset, and Association with Chemical Hypersensitivity.” Toxicology and Industrial Health (in press).

"Fragranced Consumer Products and Undisclosed Ingredients." Environmental Impact Assessment Review 29(1): 32-38, 2009.  [PDF]

Incense Use and Cardiovascular Mortality among Chinese in Singapore: The Singapore Chinese Health Study. [free article]
Pan A1, Clark ML, Ang LW, Yu MC, Yuan JM, Koh WP.
Environ Health Perspect. 2014 Dec;122(12):1279-84. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1307662. Epub 2014 Aug 15.

CONCLUSIONS: Long-term exposure to incense burning in the home environment was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in the study population.

If Incense Kills What About Scented Candles?

Personal Care Products and Cosmetics

See also: Fragrances

Mercury Poisoning Linked to Skin Products [from the FDA bulletin 07/26/2016] - Check the label. If the words “mercurous chloride,” “calomel,” “mercuric,” “mercurio,” or “mercury” are listed on the label, mercury’s in it—and you should stop using the product immediately.

Even products that claim to be unscented or claim to contain organic or green fragrances may still contain toxic substances.  You can get more information from the Environmental Health Network and the Fragranced Products Information Network.

Natural Consumer Products Found Contaminated with Cancer-Causing 1,4-Dioxane [Mar., 2008]
A cancer-causing compound called 1,4-dioxane has been found in some of the most commonly used petroleum-based cosmetics by a study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association, including products from Kiss My Face, Nutribiotic, Jason, Ecover, Citrus Magic, 365, Alba, Lifetree, Giovanni, Seventh Generation, Method, Earth Friendly Products, Sea-Chi Organics and many other brands . 1,4-dioxane (often just called dioxane) is a clear, colorless, organic compound that's a liquid at room temperature and is a known human carcinogen.

Mommy's Bliss makes a Diaper Cream and a Babyderma Body Cream.  I checked to see how non-toxic they were with the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database.  In general, they were very good.  The only concerning ingredient is Benzyl Alcohol, which is contained in both, but not too near the top of the list.  They  haven't made an overall evaluation, taking into account the percentage of the product which is of concern.

Terressentials: Organic and 100% Natural Body Care.  We hand-craft a wide range of certified organic products: organic skin care, organic hair care, organic baby products, and other goods made with certified organic herbs and certified organic essential oils. USDA Certified Organic!

ilumina Organics proudly provides Organic products developed by Health & Wellness experts to help guide you and your baby to a healthier, safer lifestyle.  They have an education page about The Real Truth Behind Non–Organic & Natural Products.

Find Safer Cosmetics

Welcome to Skin Deep - Cosmetic Safety Database by Environmental Working Group

New EWG Study Finds Most Personal Care Products Untested, Ranks Brand Names for Safety - Despite widespread belief to the contrary, the federal government has no authority to require health studies or safety assessments for personal care products before they are sold. EWG's interactive investigation allows consumers to decode the ingredient labels on 7,500 different products.

Hazards to Avoid from MOOM Skin Nourishing Hair Remover and Beauty Products

Skin Deep: The Hidden Toxins in Cosmetics and Personal Care Products

Popular Make-up Brands Get a Non-Toxic Makeover - Revlon and L’Oreal have applied the new European Union rules that ban a wide variety of hazardous compounds from consumer products.

A'kin ® is made naturally by The Purist Company Australia. . .the 'world leader' in Safe, Pure, Natural, Organic hair, body and healthy skin care. A'kin ® products are organic, ingredient rich, vegan, 100%
natural botanical aromatherapy, are hypo-allergenic in matching the skins natural pH and are the world's first sulfate, paraben & ethoxylate FREE products.

With all the attention on organic foods, many consumers are unaware of the potential health benefits provided by a wide variety of personal care products made to the same high levels of organic purity. It is a known fact that, as the skin is porous, much of what we apply to our skin is absorbed into our bodies and bloodstreams, as exemplified by products like the nicotine patch. As the body's largest organ, the skin creates a substantial surface area through which toxic chemical migration may occur. Recent studies have shown that people may actually acquire more toxins through skin absorption and inhalation than through the foods we eat. Using personal care products with ingredients grown and processed free of toxic pesticides, fertilizers and chemical preservatives has obvious and irrefutable benefits.

MotherNature.com has become the first online retailer to be awarded Organic Certification under the USDA's National Organic Program.  Visit their online Organic Body and Bath Store.

What It Means To You
When consumers see the USDA ORGANIC label on MotherNature.com, they are assured that the products have undergone a lengthy audit guaranteeing that the products' organic integrity is maintained throughout its full lifecycle. Each organic product is carefully scrutinized and recorded to ensure that it:
1. does not contain prohibited substances in its formulations (including genetically modified materials and certain chemical preservatives);
2. is made from ingredients grown without the use of toxic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers;
3. is clearly labeled to provide the customer with details on organic ingredients and content levels;
4. is transported and warehoused in such a way as to prevent commingling with non-organic products;
5. is stored in facilities which are cleaned and maintained without the use of ammonias and other prohibited substances; and
6. has a detailed audit and record of the source of its ingredients.

One of the scariest pieces of news I heard was that many skin care products contain "enhancers" to increase their absorption through the skin, and that there is no FDA control over these products!

If someone out there has some really concrete proof of the dangers of formaldehyde in sculptured nail products (not just in the clinical/research use) I sure would appreciate it.

Was assisting with a beautician/ manicurist who developed a very strange severe intractable anemia. (highly compromised baby, emergency cesarean for chronic distress). I didn't believe her occupation could possibly be considered a contributing factor until I read this in Bensons on aplastic anemia "the anemia may be a toxic sequela to administration of drugs such a s chloramphenicol, phenylbutazone, mephenytoin, or alkylating agents. Hair dyes, insecticides, and cleaning fluids may be implicated also."

I absolutely don' t know that this was the cause, but her working in a tiny shop with no open window or working ventilating system certainly couldn't have helped her pregnancy!

As an ex-cosmetologist I have something that may be related...

While working in our fairly small and very busy salon, out of the 6 girls that worked there, we experienced 3 miscarriages in a period of 6 months. We didn't do nails, but did do a lot of chemical services and had very poor ventilation. We (those of us who miscarried) became pregnant again a short time later (yes, all three of us, it was like an epidemic). We all experienced a great deal of severe nausea. I also experienced dizziness to the point that I would have to sit down for fear of collapsing. I have often wondered if these problems were related to the chemicals.

Two of us have gone on to become pregnant again. I had a pretty uneventful pregnancy, with a little bit of nausea at the beginning. My friend still had quite a bit of nausea during the majority of her pregnancy, but has told me that it was still much less severe than the previous pregnancy.

Household Toxins from Decorating Baby's Room

Are You Putting Your Unborn Baby’s Health at Risk? By Sarah Marr

If you are like most expectant mothers you want to create, design, and decorate a special place for your new baby, a place that speaks from your heart, is safe, and comfortable.

However, your good intentions could be endangering your new born. What most new mom’s don’t know is that redecorating means exposing your unborn child to toxic chemicals through; brand new paint, new carpet, washable vinyl, wallpaper, new crib with synthetic mattress, new no iron sheets, new easy care synthetic clothing, disinfectants, scented baby lotions, powders, synthetic fiber stuffed animals, plastic rattles all of which are made with toxic chemicals and are potential health risks to your new baby’s health.

The Healthy Baby Nursery - It is heartbreaking for me to see well-meaning and excited new parents decorating their new baby's nursery by painting it, installing new carpeting, and buying a crib with a brand-new foam or synthetic mattress. I did some of these things when I was pregnant; I knew better, but I wanted to be "normal" (and not chemically sensitive) and provide standard things for my baby like everybody else did.

Green Redecorating

General Indoor Pollution

Everyday Exposure to Toxic Pollutants - Environmental regulations have improved the quality of outdoor air. But problems that persist indoors have received too little attention
by Wayne R. Ott and John W. Roberts

This Scientific American article from 1998 states that indoor air pollution is often worse than outdoor air pollution, and that most indoor toxins are brought in intentionally as
cleaning products, dry cleaning, etc. or unintentionally on shoes.  Removing shoes at the door dramatically reduces toxins in the home:

This is especially important for those little crawlers!

American Healthy Homes Survey: A National Study of Residential Pesticides Measured from Floor Wipes
Stout DM et al.
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2009, 43, 4294­4300

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency conducted a survey measuring lead, allergens, and insecticides in a randomly selected nationally representative sample of residential homes. Multistage sampling with clustering was used to select the 1131 homes of which a subset of 500 randomly selected homes included the collection of hard surface floor wipes. Samples were collected by trained field technicians between June 2005 and March 2006 using isopropanol wetted wipes. Samples were analyzed for a suite of 24 compounds which included insecticides in the organochlorine, organophosphate, pyrethroid and phenylpyrazole classes, and the insecticide synergist piperonyl butoxide. The most commonly detected were permethrin (89%), chlorpyrifos (78%), chlordane (64%), piperonyl butoxide (52%), cypermethrin (46%), and fipronil (40%). Mean and geometric mean (GM) concentrations varied
 widely among compounds, but were highest for trans-permethrin (mean 2.22 ng/cm2 and GM 0.14 ng/ cm2) and cypermethrin (mean 2.9 ng/cm2 and GM 0.03 ng/cm2). Results show that most floors in occupied homes in the U.S. have measurable levels of insecticides that may serve as sources of exposure to occupants.

Pesticides linger in homes, whether we use them or not


Even a little caffeine may harm fetus, study finds (11/3/08)

LONDON (Reuters) – Pregnant women who consume caffeine -- even about a cup of coffee daily -- are at higher risk of giving birth to an underweight baby, researchers said on Monday.

The new findings published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) also linked any source of caffeine, including that from tea, cola, chocolate and some prescription drugs, to relatively slower fetal growth.

Coffee, pregnancy, and stress - A small, preliminary study suggests that drinking coffee may reduce maternal stress in the third trimester of pregnancy. Researchers found that “the relaxing effect of coffee is stronger in pregnant than in nonpregnant women”.

Coffee raises fetal death rate -- [11/15/05] -- Drinking more than three cups of coffee daily when pregnant increases the risk of fetal death, says a Danish study released Tuesday.

Pregnant women who drank eight or more cups of coffee per day during pregnancy had an increased risk of stillbirth, but not of infant death.
[BMJ 2003;326:420 ( 22 February )]

Caffeine Enzymes' Activity Linked to Spontaneous Abortion Risk  - The activity level of two enzymes involved in caffeine metabolism are associated with the risk of spontaneous abortion; these are preliminary findings but warrant further research. [Obstet Gynecol 2001;98:1059-1066.]

Caffeine intake and the risk of first-trimester spontaneous abortion.
Cnattingius S, Signorello LB, Anneren G, Clausson B, Ekbom A, Ljunger E, Blot WJ, McLaughlin JK, Petersson G, Rane A, Granath F.
N Engl J Med 2000 Dec 21;343(25):1839-45

Food Teratogens

Michel Odent is investigating a preconceptional programme to remove fatty acids from the maternal system.
JOPPPAH 17(2), Winter, 2002, p. 123

Listeriosis (Listeria) and Pregnancy from the CDC

Pregnant Women and Nursing Mothers Should Avoid French Fries and Chips - Pregnant women and nursing mothers should sharply limit, or even cease, consumption of French fries, potato chips or other foods that contain the cancer-causing chemical acrylamide, according to study released by German researchers. Reuters Health Information 01/2003

Trans fatty acids may impair biosynthesis of long-chain polyunsaturates and growth in man.
Koletzko B.
Acta Paediatr 1992 Apr;81(4):302-6

"Trans fatty acids were also inversely correlated to birth weight but not to gestational age. These data indicate a potential impairment of essential fatty acid metabolism and early growth by trans isomers in man, and question the safety of high dietary trans isomer intakes during pregnancy and the perinatal period."

"Trans fatty acids represent a particular group of fat-soluble pollutants.  Today they are abundant in such foods as cakes, biscuits, French fries, fast foods, etc.  A German team demonstrated that they cross the placenta and have adverse effects on fetal growth.  An American team found a correlation between the maternal intake of trans fatty acids and the risk of pre-eclampsia, a maternal disease that can have long term consequences for the child."
JOPPPAH 17(2), Winter, 2002, p. 121

Mercury / Eating Fish and Seafood in Pregnancy

Holistic Dentistry - Six Common Dental Procedures That can Harm Your Health, and How Environmental Dentistry (aka Holistic or Biological Dentistry) can Help

MELISA® tests for allergy to metals such as mercury, nickel and titanium, and measures the severity of the reaction

The Got Mercury? calculator helps you figure out your mercury exposure levels.

Fish Oil Supplements May Be Safer Than Eating Fish

Fish Consumption to Promote Good Health and Minimize Contaminants from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

How Mercury-Tainted Tuna Damages Fetal Brains By Sandra Steingraber

Mercury Exposure During the Primal Period - by Michel Odent, Winter, 2003

On Nov. 15, 2000, the judge of the Superior Court of California in San Francisco signed a consent decree that requires that the link between birth defects and silver-mercury dental fillings will have to be disclosed to California dental patients after Feb. 15, 2001.

Mercury Damage Seen in Children of Fish Eaters - Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that methyl mercury contamination of seafood can cause heart damage and irreversible impairment to brain function in children, both in the womb and as they grow. [It's not clear how this compares to the mercury from dental work - we need more research on this subject.]

Pregnant Women Warned on Fish [Jan. 2000] - Pregnant women and those who might become pregnant should not eat four types of fish--shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish--because it could contain enough mercury to, over time, hurt an unborn baby's developing brain, the government said. But the Food and Drug Administration rejected calls to also put tuna on the list, saying the other four types of fish contain far more mercury than does tuna.

Sushi - One of my clients is a highly trained sushi chef, and he says that the raw fish in sushi is fine for pregnant women if it has been deep frozen below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 days.  Apparently this will kill any parasites that are the primary concern for pregnant women.  (Mercury is still an issue.)

Tobacco, Second-Hand Smoke and Pregnancy Risk

If an expectant mother can't quit cigarettes, she might counter some of the bad effects by taking extra vitamin C.

Vitamin C prevents the effects of prenatal nicotine on pulmonary function in newborn monkeys.
Proskocil BJ, Sekhon HS, Clark JA, Lupo SL, Jia Y, Hull WM, Whitsett JA, Starcher BC, Spindel ER.
Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 May 1;171(9):1032-9. Epub 2005 Feb 11.

Smoking during pregnancy leads to decreased pulmonary function and increased respiratory illness in offspring. Our laboratory has previously demonstrated that many effects of smoking during pregnancy are mediated by nicotine. We now report that vitamin C supplementation can prevent some of the effects of maternal nicotine exposure on pulmonary function of offspring. Timed-pregnant rhesus monkeys were treated with 2 mg/kg/day nicotine bitartrate from Gestation Days 26 to 160. On Gestation Day 160 (term, 165 days) fetuses were delivered by C-section and subjected to pulmonary function testing the following day. Nicotine exposure significantly reduced forced expiratory flows, but supplementation of mothers with 250 mg vitamin C per day prevented the effects of nicotine on expiratory flows. Vitamin C supplementation also prevented the nicotine-induced increases in surfactant apoprotein-B protein. Neither nicotine nor nicotine plus vitamin C significantly affected levels of cortisol or cytokines, which have been shown to affect lung development and surfactant expression. Prenatal nicotine exposure significantly decreased levels of elastin content in the lungs of offspring, and these effects were slightly attenuated by vitamin C. These findings suggest that vitamin C supplementation may potentially be clinically useful to limit the deleterious effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on offspring's lung function.

Smoking can damage fetal genes - a preliminary study in yesterday's Journal [3/9/05] of the American Medical Association suggests that there was a 3½-fold increase in structural chromosomal abnormalities in fetal cells from pregnant smokers than those from nonsmokers.

7 Ways Smoking Harms Babies in the Womb from Dr. Sears

MEDLINE Abstracts: Maternal Smoking - 01/28/2004

A tobacco-specific carcinogen in the fetus.
Milunsky A, Carmella SG, Ye M, Hecht SS
Prenat Diagn 2000 Apr;20(4):307-310

Tobacco Abuse in Pregnancy by Robert J. Oliver, M.D., Ph.D.
JOPPPAH 17(2), Winter, 2002, p. 153

Second-Hand Smoke and Pregnancy Risk

Father's Smoking Can Cause Cancer in Their Children

LONDON (Reuter) - Men who smoke can damage their sperm and pass the risk of cancer on to their children, British researchers reported Monday.

A study by researchers at the University of Birmingham indicated that up to 15 percent of childhood cancers could be due to smoking by fathers.

``Fathers who smoked 20 or more cigarettes a day had a 42 percent increased risk of having a child with cancer,'' Dr Thomas Sorahan of the University of Birmingham told a news conference.

Those who smoked between 10 and 20 cigarettes a day had a 31 percent increased risk compared to non-smokers, while those who smoked less than 10 cigarettes a day still increased their children's risk of cancer by three percent.

Sorahan's group looked at data from the Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancers, a review of more than 1,500 parents whose children died of cancer between 1953 and 1955.

They compared the figures with 1,500 parents whose children did not have cancer during the same period.

``We started out with a very precise and detailed hypothesis -- that a mother's smoking was not a risk factor to childhood cancer but a father's is,'' Sorahan said.

Sorahan's group had seen studies in the United States that indicated cigarette smoke could damage sperm and said this backed their epidemiological study -- one looking at actual incidences of disease in a population.

The findings were striking, he said, and were clear even when other factors such as social class, whether the mother smoked, whether the mother had been X-rayed during pregnancy and the age of the parents were taken into account.

Sorahan said his group was now looking at more recent data, from 1971 to 1976. But he said the older surveys might be more reliable.

``Those data were collected well before stop-smoking campaigns were in full flow, so maybe there were more accurate answers,'' he said.

Parental smoking has also been linked by other research to cot death or sudden infant death syndrome, and mothers who smoke risk having smaller babies.

``This new study gives a compelling reason for men who smoke and want children to quit,'' said Gordon McVie, director general of the Cancer Research Campaign, which sponsored the research and published the paper in its British Journal of Cancer.

Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous (NA)


Alcohol and Drug Rehab for Women

I don't encourage women to drink alcohol during pregnancy, but I do think they deserve to know the truth about current research!

Making Sense of Advice about Drinking During Pregnancy: Part One – The Evidence
[3/15/16] by Sharon Muza - But there is no well-accepted scientific evidence that low or moderate levels of alcohol consumption during pregnancy—even in the first few days and weeks after conception—cause FAS or other associated problems. A comprehensive review of the literature by epidemiologists at Oxford University concluded that there was “no consistent evidence of adverse effects from low-to-moderate prenatal alcohol consumption” (Gray and Henderson 2006). However, the review noted that there was some evidence of neurodevelopmental effects caused by binge drinking during pregnancy. (That report defined binge drinking as five or more drinks on any one occasion, whereas the recent CDC report defined binge drinking as 4 or more drinks in a 2-3 hour period.)

The results of this study are not new.  To the best of my knowledge, there has never been any reputable study showing that light alcohol use at any point in pregnancy is harmful to the fetus.  The research we have about heavy drinking tells us that even the risks of heavy drinking are significantly reduced in the last months of pregnancy.  Considering that most women who are drinking heavily in the last months of pregnancy were also drinking heavily during the first trimester, it seems logical to conclude that most of the risks of alcohol use are concentrated in the first trimester.  I recommend that my clients avoid alcohol during the embryological stage (roughly the first trimester), but I make it clear to them that this is just "on principle" and not supported by actual research.  Then they can make a truly informed choice about whether or not to have a sip of alcohol to celebrate at their sister's wedding.

More Evidence Light Drinking During Pregnancy May Not Be Harmful to Offspring
Experts Say This Should Not Be Interpreted as a Green Light for Drinking While Pregnant

"October 19, 2010 — A new study from Western Australia has found no link between low and moderate alcohol consumption during pregnancy and alcohol-related birth defects. There was, however, a significantly increased risk for birth defects with heavy prenatal alcohol exposure, as expected.

"The new study, published in the October issue of Pediatrics, echoes findings from a British study, which generated considerable media attention in recent weeks. The British study, published October 5 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that light or moderate alcohol intake during pregnancy did not increase the risk for clinically relevant behavioral or cognitive problems in infants at 5 years of age.

"On the heels of both of these studies, several professional groups have weighed in, including the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, a joint undertaking of the Institute on Lifestyle & Health of Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts and Alcohol in Moderation (AIM) of the United Kingdom. Forum members are not paid; members are researchers who share their knowledge and expertise and put recent research into context with other studies."

I understand that the public health position is roughly: "If you tell pregnant women that half a glass of wine daily during pregnancy is fine, then they'll get blotto drunk every day."  No, they won't.  Women who have alcohol dependency problems might cite the recommendations as justification for their use of alcohol, even though it greatly exceeds the recommended safe levels.  But it's not going to increase their alcohol use, based on my experience in working with pregnancy women. I can't be the only healthcare professional who believes that women deserve accurate information!

Light drinking in pregnancy, a risk for behavioural problems and cognitive deficits at 3 years of age?
Kelly Y, Sacker A, Gray R, Kelly J, Wolke D, Quigley MA.
Int J Epidemiol. 2009 Feb;38(1):129-40. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

CONCLUSIONS: Children born to mothers who drank up to 1-2 drinks per week or per occasion during pregnancy were not at increased risk of clinically relevant behavioural difficulties or cognitive deficits compared with children of abstinent mothers. Heavy drinking during pregnancy appears to be associated with behavioural problems and cognitive deficits in offspring at age 3 years whereas light drinking does not.  [Ed. Many cultures have encouraged light alcohol consumption by pregnant women to help them to remain calm and relaxed.  This would increase oxygen supply to the uterus, reduce adrenaline levels that might predispose children to live an anxiety-filled life, and it would facilitate an easier birth.  Daily meditation or guided imagery might accomplish the same thing for those who wish to abstain from alcohol but also give their baby all possible advantages.]

Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy may delay the development of spontaneous fetal startle behaviour.
Hepper PG, Dornan JC, Little JF.
Physiol Behav. 2005 Jan 17;83(5):711-4.

"Maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy may delay the development of spontaneous fetal startle behaviour. Previous study indicated that fetuses exposed to alcohol exhibited a significantly higher incidence of spontaneous startles compared to fetuses not exposed at 20 weeks gestation. This study examined startle behaviour longitudinally from 20 to 35 weeks gestation to determine whether the previous results were due to 'developmental delay' or a 'permanent effect'. The number of spontaneous startles exhibited by fetuses of mothers who drank during pregnancy and fetuses whose mothers did not drink was recorded at 20, 25, 30 and 35 weeks gestation during a 45-min observation. The results indicate that exposure to alcohol during pregnancy significantly increases the exhibition of spontaneous startles by the fetus but across gestation there is significant catch-up in startle behaviour. The results suggest exposure to alcohol delays the natural maturation of spontaneous startle behaviour of the fetus but also has a smaller 'permanent' effect. It is suggested that these effects are mediated by alcohol exerting an effect on the inhibitory pathways controlling startle behaviour."

Quite frankly, when I saw the video, it looked to me as if the babies were hiccuping.  We have a cultural association between alcohol and hiccuping.  Are scientists really sure that this isn't anything beyond hiccuping?

I'm suspicious about this line in the Reuters report: "Hepper found that the babies of mothers who drank — whether one unit a week or four — all continued to display a “startle reflex” throughout their pregnancy. The reflex in the babies of the non-drinking mothers tailed off at 18 weeks."  Well, a startle reflex (also called the Moro reflex) is a normal newborn reflex, so it doesn't actually tail off at 18 weeks.  Something's wrong with this research or the reporting of it.

I think the difference is the presence of spontaneous startle reflexes, i.e. a startle response not caused by what we would call a startling stimulus.

Having lived in a few different countries I see the issue as some sort of anthropological exercise.

In France women were told that a glass of wine was fine but heaven forbid they had coffee.

In Holland (HUGE coffee drinkers!) wine was forbidden but one "kupje" coffee wasn't seen as being too problematic.  Then I moved to the US were both were considered threatening to mother and baby.

Now Mexico..where moms are told to consume as little of each as possible but where I see pregnant women consuming  both.

The campaign used here is "Todo con medida..nada con exceso."

Everything in moderation.nothing in excess.

Governmental Response to Pregnant Women Who Use Alcohol or Other Drugs from National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW) - This Overview surveys civil and criminal laws directly addressing pregnant women's use of alcohol and other drugs. It reveals a patchwork of policies, some oriented toward treatment, some purportedly focused on child protection, some frankly punitive.

Alcohol, Nicotine, Substance Use - from motherisk.org

Alcohol during pregnancy by Dr. Fawzia Sanaullah [Dec. 2004 - a PowerPoint presentation]

Maternal and paternal recreational drug use and sudden infant death syndrome.
Klonoff-Cohen H, Lam-Kruglick P.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Jul;155(7):765-70.

"There was no association between maternal recreational drug use and SIDS. Paternal marijuana use during the periods of conception and pregnancy and postnatally were significantly associated with SIDS."

Compulsory Treatment Orders - Patient's Rights Issues

 The information all first-time mothers are given in pregnancy is that 'there is no evidence that light or occasional drinking will harm their baby'. This is defined as 'no more than one or two units of alcohol once or twice a week', i.e. up to four units.

Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists, UK Guideline on Alcohol Consumption in Pregnancy

There is no conclusive evidence of adverse effects in either growth or IQ at levels of consumption below 120gms (15 units) per week. Nonetheless it is recommended that women should be careful about alcohol consumption in pregnancy and limit this to no more than one standard drink per day.

1 unit of alcohol approximately equals 8gms of absolute alcohol, which is equivalent to:
                                                                   ½ pint of ordinary strength
                                                                   beer, larger or cider
                                                                   ¼ pint of strong beer or larger
                                                                   1 small glass wine
                                                                   1 single measure of spirits
                                                                 1 small glass sherry

From: C-upi@clari.net (UPI / LIDIA WASOWICZ, UPI Science Writer)

Subject: Health Today [Jul 7]

Organization: Copyright 1997 by United Press International

Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 2:00:57 PDT
GENE LINKED TO FETAL ALCOHOL SYNDROME: A few nights of binge drinking during the first trimester of pregnancy can leave babies with malformed faces, weak hearts, short limbs and impaired brains -- for life. This fetal alcohol syndrome affects some 12,000 U.S. babies each year. Many studies have produced many theories as to why alcohol inflicts such devastating damage. Most have speculated alcohol must stage a complex, multifaceted attack against several different parts of the body. But now Washington University School of Medicine scientists in St. Louis say they've found the real answer may be much simpler. In mice studies, they have traced the horrendous complications of fetal alcohol syndrome to a single alcohol-impaired gene. When researchers injected pregnant mice with alcohol, this essential gene disappeared in developing embryos. The gene, called msx2, helps control the development of the brain, heart, limbs, skull bones and other structures.

NAPARE Alcohol, Drug, and Pregnancy Hotline 1-800-???-???? Provides information and counseling. 9 am - 5 pm CST, M-F. [Search online for this.]

There is NO EVIDENCE of harm from moderate alcohol intake at any stage of pregnancy. Various groups have advised total avoidance on the basis that regular excess consumption is harmful. Most of the publications on the subject have that message hidden away somewhere.

I agree. There is NO EVIDENCE that moderate alcohol consumption can hurt a baby. Babies do NOT get fetal alcohol syndrome because mom drank a glass of champagne during the pregnancy! (I think these abstinence campaigns are good because they may help women avoid problem drinking behaviors. I think they are terrible because they unnecessarily frighten women!)

I have stats if anyone wishes them. Some folks seem really angry to hear them. They are simply reprints from CDC. Please don't get mad at me about the information, I'm just passing it along.

I get a bit amused sometimes at the north american puritanical attitude about alcohol and pregnancy -- funny how every country thinks it has the "proper" recommendations on this one -- and how nearly every country's is different!

I like to remind myself that alcohol is an inevitable by product of food metabolization -- your body is producing alcohol every day, so obviously it cannot be completely and absolutely toxic to a fetus. The key to this, as in so many things, is moderation. Fortunately during the critical periods of fetal organ differentiation, many women feel too sick to drink anyway!

Government Publication on "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome"

This [the above] seems to contradict a rather larger study published in the Br.Med.J. a couple of years ago. ( sorry don't have reference here it's at work ) That study showed no evidence of adverse affect at lower end of exposure range, though even they over-cautiously advised probably no alcohol is best !

I did a research project on FAS (fetal alcohol syndrome) I was particularly looking at indians, I interviewed a Hopi woman who had given birth to a FAS child. First- alcohol consumption in pregnancy IS serious... BUT- there IS a direct correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed AND the duration of the drinking. The blood alcohol levels have to be elevated consistently for FAS and FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effect- not as serious, still some brain compromise but no physical deformities) to happen. Drinking one or two drinks early in pregnancy will NOT cause FAS. Generally binge drinking is considered worse than an occasional drink now and then. we are talking >2OZ of alcohol at a time. there is a LOT of information on FAS. I have attended workshops etc. and can get out specific info for those of you who want it, but the leaders here seem to be the people doing maternal child health at the IHS (Indian Health Service). Anyhow- i don't think it is worth it to scare a pregnant woman who drank a few drinks before she knew she was pregnant. If she had a beer or a couple of glasses of wine, it's probably OK. However, if she binge drank and did this several days in a row you are talking about a different story and may want to see if the woman is an alcohol abuser.

Finally, one thing about FAS is that usually it doesn't show up in an alcoholic woman until her 3rd or 4th pregnancy. She may have drank a lot her first pregnancy and her liver could handle it but if she consistently drinks by the time she is pregnant with baby the result that the baby's brain gets soaked in ETOH resulting in permanent brain damage... So find out how much someone has drunk before you either tell them not to worry or admonish them... personally i think it's hard to chastise a woman for something she did before she knew she was pregnant. You need to find out exactly what the substance use was and if it WAS abuse then act accordingly.. because she can't go back in time and undo it... and another piece of data is that women who are alcoholics will decrease their chances of delivering a FAS or FAE child if they stop drinking... again, it's quantity and duration that cause the brain damage...

From: Janneli.Miller@nau.edu

Here's some of the more pertinent sources from my Hopi FAS paper. I did this in 1992, so references are older, but some are still standards, i haven't heard of any breakthroughs re the issue of how much alcohol is "too much" or 'safe"...

Eugene Hoyme, MD at University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, specializes in teratogens, esp. alcohol.

I think that any of you who want more info should look into Streissguth, Philip May and Kathleen Masis, as of 1993 they were the people that were the best informed... although who knows what has happened in the past 5 years. They were (are) wonderful informed dedicated professionals, i spoke personally with Masis and May several times...

My understanding is that individual metabolism of alcohol varies and, while it is unlikely that daily consumption of one glass of wine will lead to FAS, it is possible. My recollection of what we know about alcohol and pregnancy is that FAS is primarily associated with consuming large amounts of alcohol, in particular binge drinking and certainly not with 4 or 5 total drinks in an entire pregnancy.

Long Piece on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Some Replies to Long Piece on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Long Reply to Long Piece on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

In Sweden all intake of alcohol during pregnancy and nursing is condemned by the health authorities. There are on-going campaigns about this issue and you are stared at with hostility if you drink an alcoholic beverage while pregnant. As some of you have pointed out, this information unsupported by studies etc. do nothing but cause guilt - and for all I know - a greater intake in shame in privacy at home.


Can Prenatal Cannabis Use Affect Kids' Brain Development? CME / CE 8/11/16] - On the basis of these findings, the investigators suggest an association between prenatal cannabis exposure and cortical thickness in children.

What Are the Effects of Cannabis Use During Pregnancy? [9/12/14] - Cannabis compounds have a small molecular size and are lipophilic in nature which allows for the drug to readily cross the placental barrier.

Effects of Marijuana on the Fetus and Breastfeeding Infants - Recent longitudinal studies suggest an increased risk of motor, social, and cognitive disturbances in offspring who were exposed to cannabis prenatally.

Medical Marijuana: A Surprising Solution to Severe Morning Sickness

By Erin Hildebrandt
Issue 124 May/June 2004

Student report on marijuana use during pregnancy or labor and birth

In my personal experience, there HAVE been several compromised infants born to regular marijuana users.  Fetal stress, being the most reoccurring one.  I am no longer surprised when a user gives birth to a "mec" stained baby, and for me, this is not always present, but once we have a stressed baby, we almost always have to clear the airways, give blow by or transport in the event of heavy mec in early labor.  This is proven over time and again not to be the case of a crimped cord or head compression in second stage.  READ: Early labor fetal distress, not always the suspected late first/second stage labor.  I don't know but a few other midwives willing to admit this is true for them, but what I've seen, it is a distinct "yes."

Maternal and paternal recreational drug use and sudden infant death syndrome.
Klonoff-Cohen H, Lam-Kruglick P.
Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2001 Jul;155(7):765-70.

"There was no association between maternal recreational drug use and SIDS. Paternal marijuana use during the periods of conception and pregnancy and postnatally were significantly associated with SIDS."

Interesting sites regarding marijuana and pregnancy:

Prenatal Marijuana Exposure and Neonatal Outcomes in Jamaica: An Ethnographic Study

Exposing Marijuana Myths: A Review of the Scientific Evidence

MARIJUANA AND MEDICINE: Assessing the Science Base


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