Healthy babies come from healthy mothers, of course! Does that mean that mothers need to have a gymnast’s muscles, or a marathoner’s stamina, or a glamour model’s sleek physique? No. But they must have clean blood, uncontaminated by the toxic pollutants circulating in the environment.
Clean blood? Yes, because mother and baby share the same blood. Not long ago scientists thought that the placenta shielded cord blood — and the developing baby — from most chemicals and pollutants in the environment. But now we know that at this critical time when organs, vessels, membranes and systems are knit together from single cells to finished form in a span of weeks, the umbilical cord carries not only the building blocks of life, but also a steady stream of industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides that cross the placenta as readily as residues from cigarettes and alcohol.
In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in collaboration with Commonweal, researchers at two major laboratories found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in umbilical cord blood from 10 babies born in August and September of 2004 in U.S. hospitals. Tests revealed a total of 287 chemicals in the group. The umbilical cord blood of these 10 children, collected by Red Cross after the cord was cut, harbored pesticides, consumer product ingredients, and wastes from burning coal, gasoline, and garbage.
According to a study at the University of California San Francisco, multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in items such as nonstick cookware, furniture, processed foods and beauty products, were found in the blood and urine of pregnant U.S. women. 43 chemicals were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women. They included polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, a prohibited chemical linked to cancer and other health problems; organochlorine pesticides; polybrominated diphenyl ethers, banned compounds used as flame retardants; and phthalates, which are shown to cause hormone disruption. Some of these chemicals were banned before many of the women were even born.
Dr. Tracey Woodruff (associate professor and director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, at the University of California, San Francisco) in February 2010 testified before a U.S. Senate panel on “Current Science on Public Exporures to Toxic Chemicals.”
We have growing scientific evidence that environmental contaminants can impact early development, particularly if exposures occur prior to conception, during pregnancy or early in life. Disruptions during the prenatal period (before birth) can increase the risk of: birth defects, low birth weight, learning disabilities, childhood cancers; and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers as adults…The scientific data clearly show that every child in the U.S. is born with a burden of multiple chemicals in their bodies that can impact their future health.
If you are a young woman and either pregnant of anticipating becoming pregnant, and have been reading prior articles in this blog site, you will have a pretty good idea of what to do to avoid endangering the health of your baby. Doing the right things will also, not so incidentally, make you a healthier person with far less chance of having cancer or other debilitating diseases throughout your life. Your health and your babies health depends upon your timely actions.
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