Ever since Environmental Working Group conducted the 10 American’s study, we have been far too aware of the exposure of the developing baby to toxins from the environment. The toxic exposure is just plain scary.
They found nearly 300 chemicals in the cord blood of newborns. This means that the placenta, which we have always thought would keep everything but necessary nutrients from the baby, offers little actual protection against the chemicals mom is exposed to. Given that the EPA registers some 80,000+ compounds for use in the US, this is no small exposure. The list is nearly endless, but may include:
- PCBs found in plastics, caulking, motors and coolants
- Flame retardants like PBDE found in cushions, clothing and curtains
- BPA in plastic water bottles, canned foods and thermal cash register receipts
- Volatile organics compounds that make up scents such as carpet, air and car fresheners, dryer sheets and cleaning products
So, the first and most important thing to do is reduce your exposure–not just during pregnancy but permanently. That also means bug sprays, flame retardant mattresses, fragrances, processed foods and pesticides. However, despite all of our best efforts, short of living life in the Biosphere in Tucson, it is impossible to eliminate all exposure. Luckily there is help.
It is pretty clear that nutrients and vitamins during pregnancy can protect against the birth defects that may occur during exposure to chemicals during pregnancy. Jumping straight to the top of the list is folic acid. Folic acid may very well work because it helps to protect our DNA from damage during an extremely critical period of development in the womb.
This particular article lends further support to this finding. Researchers found that folic acid supplementation helped to protect against the adverse effects of smoking on fetal outcomes. It goes without saying, however, that smoking during pregnancy is an unconscionable act. However, if folic acid can protect against a deliberate exposures like the hundreds of chemicals found in cigarette smoke, than certainly it may help with the unavoidable exposures that come with living life outside of a bubble.