Originally published October 1 2013
Doctors' groups agree that toxic environmental chemicals pose huge risk to expectant mothers
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A large doctor's group is recommending that medical practitioners push for tougher environmental standards and policies to help better identify and reduce exposure to substances that can be harmful to pregnant women.
According to a recently released report from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, specific pollutants and chemicals have been linked to infertility, miscarriages, birth defects and other reproductive problems.
Per The Associated Press:
From mercury to pesticides, Americans are exposed daily to environmental chemicals that could harm reproductive health, the nation's largest groups of obstetricians and fertility specialists said...
The report urges doctors to push for stricter environmental policies to better identify and reduce exposure to chemicals that prove truly risky. But it's likely to scare pregnant women in the meantime.
'What we're trying to get is the balance between awareness and alarmist'
Why? Because during the first prenatal visit, the physician's group wants doctors to question expectant mothers about how much and how often they are around certain chemicals. Also, they should teach women how they can avoid some of the most problematic chemicals during pregnancy.
"What we're trying to get is the balance between awareness and alarmist," Dr. Jeanne Conry, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), told AP.
According to an abstract of the report, "Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health care professionals. Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course."
The report was produced by ACOG's Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women in conjunction with the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Practice Committee and the University of California, San Francisco, Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment.
Researchers and specialists with ACOG and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine looked at research regarding industrial chemicals and pollutants which can be absorbed through the air and in food, water and everyday products.
Not many chemicals are marketed with ample descriptions and warnings regarding safe levels, and that's something the groups want changed. But beyond that, certain chemicals are tied to infertility and other birth defects.
"Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals has been documented to increase the risk of cancer in childhood; adult male exposure to pesticides is linked to altered semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer; and postnatal exposure to some pesticides can interfere with all developmental stages of reproductive function in adult females, including puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility and fecundity, and menopause," said the abstract.
More from the AP:
Risks are greatest for women with high on-the-job exposure. So doctors should ask about workplaces during that first prenatal visit, the committee advised.
But the report also cited research suggesting virtually every pregnant woman is exposed to at least 43 different chemicals. It's unclear how many matter, but some can reach the fetus. For example, mercury pollution builds up in certain fish, and when eaten by a mother-to-be, can damage her unborn baby's developing brain. Prenatal exposure to certain pesticides can increase the risk of childhood cancer, the report found.
'A very balanced, reasonable contribution'
The groups said poor and minority populations were exposed more often to the various pollutants.
The report noted that the problem of harmful exposure wasn't limited just to pregnancy. Higher exposure to pesticides in adult men has been tied to sterility and prostate cancer, said researchers.
"There's only so much people can do as individuals and families to limit chemical exposures," University of Washington public health dean Dr. Howard Frumkin, an environmental health specialist not involved in the report, told the AP. Nevertheless, he called the report "a very balanced, reasonable and evidence-based contribution."
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