Environmental Contaminants and Pregnant Women

Pregnant women are mostly suggested to have increased folate and omega-3 fatty acids by avoiding cigarettes and alcohol, and also suggest that they get a good sleep and follow regular exercise. However, more often, avoiding environmental contaminants is less likely to be suggested to pregnant women by others. Chemical substances exposure, which consists of vehicles’ exhaust, plastic materials, and cosmetic additives, may cause severe problems in pregnant women, leading to fetal growth. Human development is possible through the development of the fetus. If the mother is exposed to the toxic elements during pregnancy, it may lead to a lifetime loss. Several environmental contaminants have different links with the effect on pregnant women and fetal development.

The accident or deliberate access of the environmental contaminants is due to various human and animal activities. Few stable and not easy-to-break contaminants are manufactured intentionally for industrial purposes.

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The food chain is mainly affected when the contaminants are released into the environment.

The contaminants can naturally occur which enter the food chain by the increased mobility of the contaminants by the industrial activity.

Foods have been found to have the presence of various harmful contaminants such as ionic agents and metals.

Persistent organic pollutants are still found in the food chains are as follows:




Chlorinated naphthalene

Brominated flame retardants





Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSBs)

Per-fluorinated chemicals in food

Kinds of Environmental Contaminants and their Effects on Pregnant Women
Health issues and diseases can be linked with environmental exposure, mainly to fetal development. For example, when exposed to harmful chemicals, pregnant women may experience congenital anomalies, stillbirths, pregnancy loss, and fetal growth disruptions.

The fetal immune system development is hindered due to the early exposure of the mother to the contaminants.

The chemical substances include dry cleaning fluids, mercury, paint, and cleaners possessing powerful odors.

Even after banning the chemicals, they are still found in the umbilical cord.

Lifestyle and people around pregnant women may also be considered as environmental hazards.

They include smoking, strenuous exercises, heavy lifting, and standing for a long duration can be harmful to pregnant women.

Exposure to high temperatures may cause neural tube defects.

Microbial contaminants

Consuming uncooked and raw meat, fish, sausages, and soft cheese may lead to a bacterial disease known as listeriosis.

This condition is reported as rare and may cause miscarriage in pregnant women.

Fish contains mercury which can be harmful to pregnant women. Therefore, they are recommended to avoid fish.

Cooking the food thoroughly, avoiding unpasteurized dairy products, raw fruits, and vegetables must be washed, and washing all the items and hands may reduce the risk of listeriosis.

Fetal development can be affected by other microbial parasites known as toxoplasmosis.

The severity of the dangers may include the following:

Several studies have recorded tobacco smoke’s effect on fetal development.

Stillbirth and congenital anomalies are associated with tobacco smoke.

Outdoor pollution, especially particulate matter with PM 2.5, is associated with congenital anomalies.

Stillbirths can be caused by disinfection by-products that are found in the water.

Stillbirths are also reported by the solid fuel use as indoor air pollution.

Environmental Contaminants to be Avoided by Pregnant Women
Identifying elements to avoid during pregnancy is necessary as it helps to avoid risks related to fetal development and pregnant women. Few daily life environmental risks involved in harming the pregnant women and the fetal development include:

Paint and its thinners, dry cleaning liquids, pesticides, mercury, and lead are the active toxic substances.

The exposure to ionizing radiation through X-ray machines and nuclear medicine process.

The anesthetic gases utilized for the procedure involved in dental and medical fields.

Teachers and health care providers are exposed to childhood viruses.

Cigarettes and cigar pipes involving secondhand smoke.

Heavy lifting and standing for a longer duration include strenuous physical activity.

Hobby glue, paint, and household cleaners possess strong odors.

Consuming raw meat and fish, unpasteurized milk may lead to listeriosis, a bacterial contaminant.

Toxoplasmosis can affect pregnant women when exposed to cat litter boxes, gardening, and other soil activities.

During the early stage of pregnancy, if the mother is exposed to high-temperature saunas and hot tubs, it may directly cause defects in the fetus by affecting the neural tube.

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