By Rachel Sarnoff
Pregnant? Get ready for the god complex. Every mom I know talks about the saint that delivered her baby. The doctor’s word is taken as law, and heaven forbid your birth partner suggest otherwise. But are you and your doctor truly in sync?
In 2012, a University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, most doctors do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy.
If you’re pregnant, make sure your doctor knows the answers to these important questions that can protect your children’s health.
Yet studies link low levels of toxic chemicals in pregnancy to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development, as well as increased risks of birth defects, cancer, immune problems, asthma and other problems later in life.
In fact, in 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a joint statement that said: “toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies and are associated with numerous long-term health problems.”
Common sense, right? Apparently, not to the American Chemistry Council, which released a response through the Associated Press stating that the report would create “confusion and alarm among expectant mothers.”
I would say pregnant women would be alarmed by the ACOG/ASRM statement. But confused? There’s nothing confusing about these reproductive experts’ statement, nor is their anything unclear about the American Academy of Pediatrics’ position, as stated in 2011, which recognized that pesticides are associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems, and recommended that pediatricians work with parents to help reduce the use of pesticides in homes and yards.
It’s pretty clear to me that the gynecologists, obstetricians and pediatricians who are primarily responsible for our children’s health are unified with the common goal of reducing exposure to toxic chemicals—especially in pregnancy.
Writing off pregnant women as “confused” by the truth that low doses of toxic chemicals can be dangerous, especially to children, is misguided logic. As parents, we need to get empowered about the decisions that can affect the health of our children. If you’re pregnant, or thinking about it, here are a few questions to ask the doctor you’re considering having deliver your baby:
- Should I be concerned about mercury in fish?
- Is organic food important during pregnancy?
- How can I reduce the amount of VOCs in my environment?
IMHO, the answers I’d want to hear are:
- Yes, avoid fish during pregnancy and supplement with omega-3 oils.
- Since studies have shown links between pesticides in pregnancy and lower birth weight babies with shorter term pregnancies; you should eat organic as much as you can.
- Use no VOC paints and avoid new synthetic carpets and furniture, especially those which are made with formaldehyde.
If your doctor doesn’t have answers or want to research these issues, consider whether or not he or she is the right doctor for you. Because if you’re going to choose a god for nine (ten) months, it should be someone you can trust to be as current—or more so—than you are about information that’s crucial to your baby’s health.
Portions of this story originally appeared on Rachel’s Huffington Post column.You can read more from Rachel on her site, Mommy Greenest