If you're pregnant, you're contaminated with potentially toxic chemicals that may affect your baby.
That's the startling, inescapable conclusion of a new study the first of its kind that examined 268 women's "body burden" of 163 different chemicals.
While not all women were contaminated with all the chemicals tested a note of optimism was that some women managed to avoid certain chemicals completely every woman had been exposed to a cocktail of chemicals, including several known to be hazardous. With rates of autism, obesity and certain childhood cancers increasing, many researchers are looking for triggers in the womb. That said, the specific effects of these low-level pollutants on a developing fetus aren't known specifically, and in some cases could be minimal. This study only measured the chemicals in pregnant women, not their effects on their health or that of their babies.
Nearly all women were contaminated with several chemicals that are known or suspected of increasing the risk for a variety of serious health problems:
The results aren't, unfortunately, surprising; in fact, the levels of chemicals detected in pregnant women in this study are slightly lower, in many cases, than the levels detected in women who weren't pregnant tested in other studies.
The scientists said their results justified further research.
Advocates, however, said the results offered more evidence that it's time to reform the nation's chemical testing law, the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, known as TSCA. The law is widely criticized for failing to keep potentially harmful chemicals away from the public; by many estimates, 80,000 chemicals are in circulation, few of which have received even cursory testing for health and environmental effects. Under the law, the use of only five chemicals have been restricted.
"These findings should be a call to action for Congress and the Administration." said Andy Igrejas, director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. "We've known for years that exposures in the womb to toxic chemicals have a profound effect on the health of children. Here we have confirmation that pregnant women are carrying these chemicals around in their bodies."
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