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Harmful Environmental Agents for Pregnancy

Pregnancy, Childbirth, and the NewbornPregnant women want to do all they can to protect themselves during pregnancy so they can deliver a healthy baby. Here are some environmental agents that can be harmful to pregnant women - as well as young children - from ďPregnancy, Childbirth, and the Newborn, Revised and Updated : The Complete GuideĒ (Meadowbrook Press).

Herbicides and Insecticides
These sprays are widely used along roadsides, in farming areas, and in residential communities. Their presence in air and food has been associated with miscarriage and birth defects. While you are pregnant, avoid frequent, long-term exposure to these chemicals, and wash fruit and vegetables well to remove pesticides.

Avoid x-rays for medical and dental diagnosis and donít work in areas where radiation levels may be high. During the first trimester, radiation interferes with cell division and organ development. If a diagnostic x-ray is suggested, be sure to talk to your physician about the risk and possible safer alternatives.

Video Display and Computer Terminals
While miscarriage from the radiation in video or computer terminals is unlikely, some side effects from prolonged use of terminals can affect pregnant women. If you are showing signs of fatigue, muscle strain, headache, carpal tunnel syndrome, or eyestrain, try to vary your work responsibilities, make your work station as comfortable as possible, and take frequent breaks from terminals.

Electric Blankets
Studies of the effects of electric blankets Ė which emit low-frequency electromagnetic energy - on reproductive health are inconclusive, but it would be wise to avoid using them during pregnancy.

Saunas and Hot Tubs
Prolonged exposure to extreme heat may raise a motherís body temperature, creating a fever that impairs fetal developments. If you find saunas and hot tubs relaxing and beneficial, make sure the temperature is below the level of a fever. If your normal temperature rises above one degree, get out and cool down. Keep your shoulders and arms out of the water will help maintain a safe body temperature.

Hair-Care Products
There is no direct evidence that hair dyes or permanent waves are harmful during pregnancy. Limit your exposure by always wearing gloves when using these products and donít leave the solution on your head for an extended period of time.

This is a mild infection caused by a parasite. This can be dangerous to an unborn baby. Cats are common carriers of this parasite, so to protect yourself, wash your hands thoroughly after handling cats and have someone else clean the cat litter box. Also, cook meat thoroughly, wash vegetables completely, and see your physician for a blood test if you have coldlike symptoms.


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