Pregnant? Congratulations! You've got a lot of office visits ahead of you, and this might be a good time to make sure that you and your doctor are truly in sync. A University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that most do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy.
Although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, only 19 percent talk to their patients about pesticides, 12 percent discuss air pollution and only 11 percent talk about VOCs emitted from things like paint. A mere eight percent discuss phthalates, with five percent extending the discussion to BPA.
Yet, studies link low levels of these chemicals in pregnancy to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development (phthalates and BPA), asthma (air pollution and volatile organic compounds) and even cancer (pesticides).
In fact, in 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a joint statement that said: "toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies and are associated with numerous long-term health problems."
Common sense, right?
Apparently, not to the American Chemistry Council, which released a response through the Associated Press stating that the report would create "confusion and alarm among expectant mothers."
Alarmed, yes. But confused? There's nothing confusing about these reproductive experts' statement, nor is their anything unclear about the American Academy of Pediatrics' position, as stated in 2011, which recognized that pesticides are associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems, and recommended that pediatricians work with parents to help reduce the use of pesticides in homes and yards.
It's pretty clear that the gynecologists, obstetricians and pediatricians who are primarily responsible for our children's health are unified with the common goal of reducing exposure to toxic chemicals -- especially in pregnancy.
We need to get empowered about decisions that can affect the health of our children.
If your doctor doesn't talk to you about mercury in fish, organic food in pregnancy or how to reduce the amount of VOCs in your environment, for example, consider whether or not he or she is the right doctor for you.