Maybe you’ve just learned that you’re pregnant, or maybe you have a new baby or growing children. Perhaps you and your partner are just thinking about having a family. Whatever the reason, you may be hearing troubling things about toxic chemicals around you — especially chemicals in plastic and other harmful ingredients or materials in the things you use daily — and how these chemicals affect not just the environment, but also the human body and particularly growing babies, infants, and children.
But the good news is that every step you take to reduce harmful chemicals, no matter how small, is a significant step. According to research studies, reducing your exposures makes a meaningful difference in the levels of these chemicals in your body. For example, people who stopped eating all canned food and food packaged in plastic for just three days showed a drop of over 60% of the hormone-disruptor BPA in their urine.
That’s why we’re thrilled to have put together the Healthy Baby Guide together with support from Natracare, a proud sponsor of this great resource full of tips for avoiding toxics, as well as product recommendations that have been vetted by MADE SAFE to ensure they’re made with safe ingredients not known to harm human health.
This month in particular, we’re proud to highlight Natracare’s MADE SAFE certified nursing and maternity pads. Conventional pads can be contaminated with the carcinogens dioxins and furans.
Read on for a few helpful tidbits from this great resource.
Toxic Chemicals’ Impact on Pregnant & Breastfeeding Women and Children
You may have heard that children are not merely little adults. Their bodies work differently. Their immune systems are not fully developed and they don’t have the same ability as adults to clear chemicals from their bodies. Additionally, children breathe more than adults, about twice as many times in a minute, so they literally have twice the exposure from chemicals in their environment. That makes the toxicants more “bioavailable” for their bodies – and that means more harm can be done. Often, disease that is a result of environmental exposures show up later in life. For example, exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals during the development of the immune system in early childhood can lead to cancer or infertility later in life.
Studies show that pregnant and breastfeeding women are also disproportionately impacted by harmful chemicals:
- High levels of BPA in the body have been linked to reproductive problems in women like recurrent miscarriages, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis.
- Chemicals in pregnant women’s bodies can be passed on to developing fetuses in the womb. For example, one 2005 study showed 287 industrial chemicals in cord blood of newborns.
- Many studies are showing that exposure to toxic chemicals in critical windows of development, including in the womb, can have lifelong effects.
- Chemicals can also be passed on through breast milk. We want to underscore that while breastfeeding remains the best option for benefits such as growth, development, and immunity, the amount of chemicals found in breast milk poses an unnecessary burden. Thus, actively reducing your chemical exposure is a prudent step.
Tips for Pregnant Women & Moms
- Avoid fragrance where you can. Fragrance contains endocrine-disrupting chemicals like phthalates and other unknown harmful ingredients that often don’t appear on labels. Pregnancy is a good time to take stock of how many of your products contain fragrance (laundry detergent, fabric softener, perfume, creams, soaps, shampoos, lotions, etc.) and begin to phase those out with fragrance-free options.
- Switch to glass or stainless steel rather than drinking from plastic. (From water bottles to coffee, this is a good practice.)
- If breastfeeding and your nipples get cracked and sore, avoid a lanolin-based cream which can carry heavy metals. Try some olive oil or another oil to keep nipples from chafing.
- Look for unbleached nursing and maternity pads.
Tips for the Nursery
- If you choose disposable diapers, look for chlorine-free, fragrance-free, and dye-free to avoid potential effects of dioxin. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified dioxins as a “likely human carcinogen.”‘
- Simplify the number of baby products in your home. Babies can be exposed to toxic flame retardant chemicals in foam-based products such as bassinets, car seats, and nursery gliders. Testing has shown exposure levels were highest in households with more baby products.
- Do not heat food or liquids in plastic or pouches. High heat allows plastic to leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals faster. Try glass bowls or steel pots instead.
- Use glass bottles or stainless steel bottles.
- Opt for clear silicone nipples for baby bottles and pacifiers.
Check out our Healthy Baby Guide for more tips and all scientific citations, and check out Natracare’s MADE SAFE certified nursing, maternity, and feminine care products!