And, of course to the gents out there, what would you ask your lady friends to change?
I gave a little talk with two of my favorite women in green beauty (precisely because they couldn’t look less green!): Anya Sarre, who told her hilarious a-ha story and gave great tips for looking and feeling good while knocked up, and Bethany Wojteck from Arcona (a great line, especially for anyone with problem skin!). Anya is about 7 months pregnant, and Bethany has a 9 month old (though you’d never know by looking at her) and while both women have been super conscious and careful for some time it was interesting to hear the additional sacrifices they made during pregnancy.
Now, it’s not like I’m planning a pregnancy right this second, but I’m well aware that the time before one gets pregnant is very important, and while the baby is cooking it’s downright critical to be careful of chemical exposure—especially given the new science emerging around endocrine disruptors.
BPA has now been shown to permanently change gene expression, a subject I made Siobhan explain to me in extremely explicit laymen’s terms over gchat yesterday (she’s so good at this stuff!). Basically this means, and correct me if I’m wrong S, that if a fetus is exposed to BPA in utero there is the potential for it to change the signal a given gene is supposed to send. A gene that was meant to do X, may now do Y (pun intended on this one), and it won’t change back again. While this research is still very new and we can’t say for sure how these fetuses will be affected as adults, we know that BPA—which is mildly estrogenic—has been linked to things like obesity, early puberty in women, infertility in men and so on.
Ugh. Which takes me to what I would change in the months prior to trying, and in the event that I got pregnant. I would definitely avoid all canned things (which is really tough for me) because the liners almost always contain BPA, including my favorite sardines (sad face) and the ”natural” soda Zevia that I love, who at least address the issue on their site. I’d also probably avoid any salon treatments—nails and hair—even though I know it’s really important to feel pretty and pulled together during those pregnancy months! Some women just go once or twice for a little pick-me-up, and I totally get it.
Oh, and I’d probably get really annoying about fragrance and ask people I work with not to wear any. And I’d throw out the last few cleaning products I have that are totally toxic (hello Ajax). I would also try to drive our old Jeep more, because I think (though I’m not sure) that older cars have less chemical crap in them.
What am I missing? Surely something! What did you change during your pregnancy, or would you give up if you were planning to get knocked up?
This one’s already gotten a lot of air time, but we’re going to weigh in nonetheless. A study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and published in Environmental Health Perspectives, found a multitude of chemicals in the urine and blood samples of pregnant women.
While this in itself is not surprising, some of the findings are. From this San Francisco Chronicle article:
Of the 163 chemicals studied, 43 of them were found in virtually all 268 pregnant women in the study. 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.
Nobody knows for sure if these chemicals have ill effects on fetuses and, as Andrew Revkin at the New York Times points out, there are inherent problems when writing about this kind of research. As a rule we try not to incite panic, but we also think that it’s important to spread this type of information even when studies aren’t conclusive (which they never are), or only explore one part of an issue (which they often do). There are also worse things to panic about, especially when our exposure to certain questionable chemicals—like the ones in your body lotion—can be significantly reduced by making better choices as consumers. But I digress…
What’s most disturbing about this study is how some of these chemicals have been passed on mother-to-child generations after they’ve been discontinued from use. That’s creepy, even if it isn’t “proven” to be dangerous.
Are you freaked out by this research? And do you think journalists need to be more careful when they’re reporting on science?