Pregnant Women Cry Over New Studies “Toxins and Drugs and Poor Diets….Oh My!”


pregnant-690735_1280Hold the cigarettes and alcohol while pregnant.  We all know that, but what about exposing a fetus to a virtual cocktail of toxins including PCBs, together with pharmaceuticals including nitroglycerin, together with limiting what essential nutrients that growing fetus needs to develop?  Have researchers today become like the blind men with the elephant as they search for genetic reasons for dramatic rises in various conditions such as autism without considering if genetic mutations can come from prenatal exposure to a mixture of toxins and drugs to a possibly already compromised fetus that is lacking nutrients for proper development?

It was “shocking” to see the headline “Safe” Levels Of Arsenic In Drinking Water Have Negative Health Effects on Pregnant/Lactating Mothers And Offspring, Scientists Find’

“Exposure to arsenic in drinking water at the level the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently deems as safe in the United States (10 parts per billion) induces adverse health outcomes in pregnant and lactating mice and their offspring, concludes a study led by Joshua Hamilton of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) ( and Courtney Kozul-Horvath at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth ( The team is part of the Dartmouth Superfund Research Program on Toxic Metals ( and/or breastfeeding mothers who consumed low levels (10 ppb) of arsenic in their drinking water, the scientists found, exhibited significant disruption in their lipid metabolism, leading to diminished nutrients in their blood and in their breast milk. As a result, their offspring showed significant growth and development deficits during the postnatal period before weaning. Birth outcomes such as litter size and length of gestation were unaffected.“The pups were essentially malnourished; they were small and underdeveloped,” Hamilton says. Once the pups were switched to milk from a mother who had not consumed arsenic, their growth deficits reversed, although only the males fully caught up with the pups that had had no arsenic exposure.”

But the issue may not just be toxins, and nourishment, we should also be aware of all the pharmaceuticals floating (literally) around.  The following  may show why we all should become more aware of the numerous side effects disclosed on the numerous drug commercials aired ad nauseum on TV.

From the 2010 study Toxicological Relevance of Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water, there are “no adequate studies in pregnant women”

“What we pee out is staying in our water. It’s in the cup of tea you’re holding right now. It is, in fact, spreading into all water, everywhere.  Some people are peeing out nitroglycerin, some people estrogens, and lots of cows are peeing out steroids in cow-sized doses.”  And “After the contents of your toilet bowl go swirling into the municipal sewer plant, a lot of time and energy is spent getting rid of germs and contaminants like heavy metals. But nothing is done about the pharmaceuticals. Standard water filters (like the one on your sink or refrigerator door) don’t remove the drugs, either. Bottled water isn’t doing any better.” Read more You may also be interested in knowing that the use of  pharmaceuticals is spreading and deadly as published this month in a provocative Vanity Fair article.

I wasn’t aware of the pharmaceutical aspect to drinking water, but I was aware of the mixture of toxins in the soils and waters where I lived while pregnant in New Jersey. A Tale Of Dead Birds and Black Ooze in NJ  And while I focus on autism and apraxia and other neurologically based communication impairments which were previously rare and are now rising dramatically,  could this be why we are seeing a dramatic rise in obesity as well as various medical and psychological disorders?   And while we know that even small amounts of lead can lead to cognitive decline,  can other toxins alone or mixed together with  pharmaceuticals affect the cognitive ability of a fetus; the future of our species?  To those that believe the increase in various conditions such as autism is just “more awareness”  is that a sign of the decline of cognitive functioning of our species?

While pregnant women might worry over everything they eat and drink, trying to eat healthy to nourish their fetus, there may be something else to worry about that is beyond a mother’s control.  That something else is the environment.

In a study that came out through a team at UC San Francisco it was found that there was the presence of a wide range of toxins which may be carried in pregnant women along with their fetuses.  The study examined data from 268 pregnant women and identified 163 environmental toxins including PCBs and even the now banned DDT. The findings released Friday were based on 2003-04 data and published in Environmental Health Perspectives titled  Environmental Chemicals in Pregnant Women in the US: NHANES 2003-2004

Some of the articles and blogs I read mentioned how shocking  toxins such as DDT that had been banned for years were found in pregnant women, but like Styrofoam there are things that don’t break down, and things like plastic that take decades.  According to studies as stated here “DDT can be stored in all tissue but is found most prominently in fats. With its long [half-life] – 10 years – and its widespread use, no living organism may be considered DDT free (Turoslav, et al, 2002). DDT has been found in all birds and fish tested from the most arid deserts to the deepest seas. It is estimated that it would take 10 to 20 years for an individual to become DDT free, even if all DDT exposures could be avoided during that time.”

And we already know through research Low Levels of Lead and IQ Deficits or Very low lead levels linked with IQ deficits, according to NEJM study that even small amount of lead in soil can lead to cognitive decline in IQ.  And through research such as Lead levels of edibles grown in contaminated residential soils: a field survey we know that if lead is in the soil it will be in every aspect of the vegetation including the parts we or animals consume.  In other words it’s entering the food chain.  What about other toxins or a mixture of toxins?  What about pharmaceuticals?  If being found in our water supply are they in our plants and thus food chain too?

So on the hunch there are areas of the US and world that have different types of toxins that may be linked to the dramatic rise in disorders, I’d like to suggest the UC San Francisco team a future study that compares pregnant women from various parts of the country, or even various parts of a state.  Perhaps New Jersey a “high” state for reasons I wrote here in 2003 God Please Save The Little Silent Children (Canaries In The Coal Mine) But as there is now a school and center for apraxia in Ohio, another “high” state that could be a good control state as well.  It would also be interesting to compare the toxins in pregnant women in New Jersey or Ohio to those pregnant women in Wisconsin, a “low” state.  On a world-wide level  a fantastic comparison of toxins would be to compare the amount found in pregnant women living in Somalia vs the amount of toxins found in pregnant women from Somalia now living here in the US.  Autism is unheard of in Somalia yet 1 in 28 children from Somalia living in the US are diagnosed with autism.


The good news is there are positive things we can do to help protect ourselves and our fetuses.   Eat well.  As you can read in recent articles “Researchers from the University of Texas found that a low calorie or poor diet in early pregnancy damages the brain of babies.   The team found poor eating habits or dieting during early pregnancy could damage the intelligence of your baby affected brain development which could lower IQ and also lead to behavioral problems later in life.”

To me, speaking of yet another study I’d find intriguing, the most logical next study would be to see if the health of the mother with the poor diet is also affected along with her fetus.  We do know from other research on essential fatty acids that the human body when pregnant will pull what it can from the mother’s stores if she doesn’t consume enough for the growing baby inside her as you can read in Seafood consumption, the DHA content of mothers’ milk and prevalence rates of postpartum depression: a cross-national, ecological analysis. So if you don’t consume enough of essential fatty acids, all the essential amino acids and nutrients (essential again means you can’t produce it and need to consume it) that baby’s body most likely will pull it from Mom.

So the pregnant women’s mantra “I’m losing my mind” may not be far from the truth if you don’t eat well!


Written by Lisa Geng, mother to two boys that were both “late talkers” who are doing great today. President and Founder of the Cherab Foundation, and Co Author of The Late Talker book St Martin’s Press

3 Responses to “Pregnant Women Cry Over New Studies “Toxins and Drugs and Poor Diets….Oh My!””
  1. Zack Covell says:

    Bring a baby into the world today takes responsibility moreso than in the past. This is because we live in a toxic soup of pollution and unhealthy (modified) foods today. An unborn baby is very sensitive to accumulating chemicals during development; so be a responsible person about this. Both the mother and the father should make these efforts for their baby.

    NOTE: the sample size of this research group of pregnant women was rather small. I think 268 women. This is too small for a scientifically significant result.

    The media is not doing a good job recognizing this study was rather small, and thus; rather irrelevant to truly tallying what’s going on with pregnant women.

  2. Mayo says:

    Toxins enter our bodies from what we eat and drink, from the air we breathe, and from what we put on our skins.

    In fact, what’s put on the skin, the body’s largest organ, reaches organs faster than what we swallow (what’s in our gastrointestinal tract) !

    With this in mind, selecting chemical-free skin and hair care products can make your quality of life better – and possibly save your life. Research is showing a buildup of chemicals on the skin can cause acne, dry skin and skin cancer.

    One of the worst (most toxic) ingredients in all kinds of products is “fragrance”. Here’s a link to a page with clear information about what to look for – or avoid – in products you buy.

  3. JoshuaBlue says:

    It’s horrible to know babies that haven’t even been born yet are abused like this by toxins

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