Pregnant? Why You Should Avoid Phthalates

Pregnant? Why You Should Avoid Phthalates

If you’re pregnant or thinking about being pregnant staying away from phthalates (used to make plastics pliable) may be best for your future child’s noggin. Why? Because reducing a pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates can protect a child from a significantly lowered IQ.
A study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health is the first to report a connection between prenatal exposure to phthalates and school-age kids’ IQ. Researchers found that moms exposed to the highest concentrations of phthalates had children with IQs about 7.6 points lower than the moms who were exposed to the least amount of the chemicals. That, say the scientists, has a direct effect on a child’s future academic and occupational abilities.

Phthalates are not required to be listed on labels. So if you’re contemplating becoming pregnant or are pregnant, dodge anything with an added scent that isn’t from a 100% essential oil; dryer sheets; plastics with the recycling numbers 3, 6 and 7; and never microwave anything in plastic. Also, try to avoid buying food packaged in plastics and avoid high-fat food, like whole dairy, which seems to contain an extra dose of phthalates! Instead enjoy lots of fruits and veggies -- they seem related to lower levels of phthalates in your blood. Take action now -- you may be able to reduce your blood level of phthalates pretty quickly. And let’s campaign to get phthalates on ingredient labels. It’s time to get smart about the dangers of dumbing down a whole generation.

Medically reviewed in July 2019.

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