Responsible and good parenting starts before conception. Let me explain! It was once believed that the fetus was safe inside the placenta. What better environment that inside mama’s belly, right? We have unfortunately learned over the years that this is not the case. Because of all the toxins that everyone including mothers are exposed to on a daily basis, the womb is not the safe environment we once thought it was.
Many chemicals stored in a woman’s body are passed into her child during pregnancy and later through breast-feeding. A 2005 study by the Environmental Working Group revealed that at least 287 hazardous industrial chemicals pass through the placenta to the fetus.1
According to Women’s Voices for the Earth, it is estimated that between 80,000 and 85,000 chemicals are in use in the environment in United States, yet only about 200 of these chemicals have been tested for safety.2 Considering the environment we live and work in, the polluted air we breathe, the pesticides sprayed on the foods we eat, the contaminated water we drink and bathe in, it’s not surprising that we are exposed to so many toxins and chemicals.
How toxins affect unborn children
A study published in 1994 in the Netherlands revealed the correlation between slower reaction times, hyperactivity, and problems thinking and umbilical cord and maternal PCB/dioxin blood levels. 3 Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are synthetic chemicals which are no longer produced in the United States, but are still found in the environment.
In a study done at the Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina, “The placenta is a target organ for toxicity originating from persistent and rapidly metabolized and excreted pesticides. The …. findings strengthen the view that pesticide- induced damaged in the placenta may contribute to the occurrence of reproductive and developmental adverse effects in humans.” 4
According to the Physician’s for Social Responsibility (PSR) In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development Project, thinking ability, behavior, activity, and personality of a child appears to be determined by about 50% genetics and 50% environmental exposures. PSR also found the following 5:
- Fetal mercury exposure may impair learning, memory, and attention in children as they grow older.
- IQ deficits in adolescent children are linked to fetal PCB exposure.
“Scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have published a study looking at exactly how much of certain chemicals move across the placenta to the fetus and how much they concentrate in breast milk. The Harvard and CDC scientists and their collaborators recently published research that examined chemicals in 15 mother-child pairs, measuring to what extent the chemicals cross the placenta and reach the fetus. They measured a total of 87 chemicals and found nearly all of them in both mother and fetus. Average concentrations were highest in breast milk, and blood levels in mothers averaged 1.7 times those of the fetus. In general, chemical levels correlated well between mother and fetus, indicating that the chemicals are crossing the placenta.” 6
The list of research goes on and on. I have included some more studies at the end in case you’d like to more information on the matter. You can also do your own research. I am sure that you will be as amazed as I was to see decades worth of research about toxicity, mothers, and children. Whether or not we are in childbearing years or even want children, we are all at risk of exposure to thousands of known toxins. We can all benefit from being more careful about the environment we are in, the foods we eat, the products we use…
What Can You Do Today to Avoid Environmental Toxins
Since couples are having children later on in life, toxins have more time to accumulate. It is critical for everyone, especially women and men who want children, to detox and get rid of toxins and heavy metals that have been building up for years. There are so many options for detoxing that can work with your lifestyle and budget.
Have you ever done a detox or cleanse? What did you do and what were the results? I’d love to hear from you.
In the meantime, here are a couple of resources to help you live a more toxin-free life.
- Here are 8 Tips on How to Avoid Environmental Toxins During Pregnancy.
- Here is a recent blog I did on Tips for Toxic Free Living.
Remember that what you do can have a significant impact on the life of your unborn child if you choose to have children. There is just too much data confirming that the environment in which a child is born can affect him/her for many years to come.
What you can do if you plan on having children
Remember that not all detoxes or cleanses are equal and it takes time to remove toxins, heavy metals and other poisons from your system (ie: a 7-day cleanse while it may be helpful may not do the trick if you have heavy metals such as aluminum, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and others in your system). A test like hair analysis could be the best first step to discovering how much of a toxic load you are dealing with and then a proper program could be established. I’ll be discussing this in a separate blog very soon.
Resources & Further Reading
♦ Analysis of maternal and umbilical cord blood provided by volunteers published in the Netherlands in a study entitled A Present for Life, http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/publications/reports/umbilicalcordreport/
♦ National Center for Biotechnology Information Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES 2003–2004 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114826/
♦ Mail Online UK GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1388888/GM-food-toxins-blood-93-unborn-babies.html
♦ National Center for Biotechnology Information Partition of Environmental Chemicals between Maternal and Fetal Blood and Tissues – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3031182/
Sources Environmental Working Group (EWG). 2005. Body Burden 2: The Pollution in Newborns. – http://www.ewg.org/research/body-burden-pollution-newborns  Women’s Voice for the Earth – http://www.womensvoices.org/about/why-a-womens-organization/  Effects of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls on thyroid hormone status of pregnant women and their infants study. Koopman-Esseboom C – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7816522  Placental Toxicology of Pesticides, Gladis Magnarelli and Natalia Guiñazú, IDEPA-CONICET, Universidad Nacional del Comahue, Argentina –
http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/31274/InTech-Placental_toxicology_of_pesticides.pdf  In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development Project