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How Moms-to-be Can Limit Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

How Moms-to-be Can Limit Exposure to Harmful Chemicals

Expecting mothers’ exposure to chemicals called phthalates can affect their child’s cognitive development.

Researchers from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Karlstad University in Sweden found prenatal exposure in the first trimester to phthalates, a chemical used in personal care products and plastics, has been linked to a disruption in the part of the brain responsible for language development.

Late language development can cause a child to have social, emotional and intellectual problems. How do phthalates do this? They’re known hormone disruptors and they’re everywhere.

Everyone can—and should—reduce his or her exposure to phthalates. Moms-to-be in their first trimester should be especially vigilant about following these tips:

  • Don’t use plastic containers in cooking or for storage. Don’t heat or microwave foods in plastic containers. Store food in glass if possible; if you use plastic, the American Academy of Pediatrics says to avoid any with recycling codes 3, 6 or 7, unless they’re labeled “biobased” or “greenware.”
  • Ditch cosmetics or household products that have a fragrance—that means phthalates. Look for labels like “phthalate free,” “no synthetic fragrance” or “scented with 100 percent essential oils.”
  • Stick with organic produce, lean meats and low-fat dairy. Phthalates are used in pesticides and herbicides and neither is permitted on foods certified organic.

So, do everything you can now to keep your fetus healthy and help your child thrive and learn.

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