Pesticides & Pregnancy: What You Need to Know
If you are planning on getting pregnant or are currently pregnant, there are some major things about pesticide you should know.
What Is Pesticide?
Pesticides are chemicals that are used to kill bugs, rodents, mold or weeds. You can use some pesticides in your home. Others are for use only outside or on crops. While pesticides may be helpful in keeping your home pest-free, they can cause problems for your baby if you’re exposed to (come in contact with) them during pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, stay away from pesticides.
How Are You Exposed to Pesticides?
You may come in contact with pesticides as part of your everyday life. Pesticides can be in:
• Air and water
• Bug sprays
• Cleaning products, like bleach
• Food, farmers may use pesticides on food crops
• Lawn and garden products, like weed killer
• Pet products, like flea and tick shampoo
• Rodent poisons, like mouse or rat bait
What Problems Can Pesticides Cause During Pregnancy?
Your exposure to large amounts of pesticides like those used on crops may be harmful to your baby during pregnancy. It may lead to:
• Birth defects. These are health conditions that a baby has at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, in how the body develops, or in how the body works.
• Learning problems later in your baby’s life.
We put together 7 tips to help you or a loved one avoid the risks of prenatal pesticide exposure:
1. Use natural pest control in your garden and natural insect repellent when outdoors.
2. Adopt a ‘no shoes’ policy in your home. Tracked-in dirt may include pesticide residue that can be inhaled or ingested.
3. Trust your sense of smell. Sense of smell is often heightened during pregnancy. Take advantage of this biologic warning system —if it smells toxic, it probably is!
4. Educate yourself about the public areas you frequent most. Research the parks and beaches that use chemical versus natural pesticides. Check your city website for scheduled applications of pesticides and avoid these areas during the day of and several days after application.
5. If you are exposed to chemical pesticides, wash clothing immediately and separately to avoid any cross contamination.
6. Eat organic as much as you can. The increased cost will result in long-term benefits for you and your unborn child’s health. Check the EWG website for updates to the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen.” At a minimum, work to incorporate organic choices for the foods listed as having the highest pesticide residue — and ALWAYS wash your fruits and veggies before preparing and eating.
7. Be the voice of change in your community. Speak out about the dangers of pesticide use to your neighborhood association or even at your town or city council meetings. Education is the best for propelling community change.
Here’s to a happy and healthy pregnancy!
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