Dangerous Substances During Pregnancy - Live Better | Revere Health
Bringing a new life into the world is one of life’s greatest joys, but using certain substances could jeopardize an expectant mother’s chance of having a healthy baby. The following information informs expectant mothers about just how dangerous some of these substances can be during pregnancy.

The Dangers of Alcohol During Pregnancy

Drinking may seem like a harmless endeavor in moderation, but it is best to exercise extreme caution when it comes to drinking while pregnant. Conventional wisdom has suggested that having a glass of wine every now and then is no big deal, but recent scientific evidence is beginning to suggest otherwise.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently issued a clear message that cautions expectant mothers to simply not drink at all. According to the group, “No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy.”

The group also released an official report that identified prenatal exposure to alcohol as the leading cause of preventable birth defects as well as future cognitive issues in an infant’s later years. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is yet another prominent health organization advising women to abstain from alcohol during the entirety of a pregnancy.
No amount of alcohol should be considered safe to drink during any trimester of pregnancy.

In short, try your best to avoid giving into the pressure of thinking that there is a safe time or amount of alcohol to consume. Experts conclude it simply isn’t worth the risk. According to Dr. Cheryl Tan, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “There is no safe amount, no safe time and no safe type of alcohol to drink during pregnancy. It’s just not worth the risk.”

The study conducted by Tan’s pediatrics group at the CDC found that merely having one alcoholic drink a day during pregnancy increases the risk of having a baby with growth retardation. Additional health risks to the fetus include:

Hearing and Vision Issues
Kidney Problems
Heart Ailments
Bone Problems
Neurodevelopmental Issues

In short, it is in your baby’s best interests to avoid that glass of wine—Your baby’s health may depend on it. Instead of harming a baby’s development, resist the temptation of drinking, get active and make your baby smarter with short and simple pregnancy exercises.

Smoking Dangers During Pregnancy

If you are a regular smoker, know that quitting is in the best interests of your baby. Try to quit completely because, while it is true that cutting down on smoking is better than chain smoking, only completely quitting will truly alleviate the risk of smoking during pregnancy.

As an incentive to quit smoking, it may help to know the risks you are causing to the fetus. First, smoking during pregnancy is known to increase the risk of premature birth. Premature babies are more likely to have health problems, and smoking also raises the risk of birth defects. Common birth defects and other severe health issues caused by smoking include:

Cleft Lip/Palate
Low Birthweight
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Miscarriage
Stillbirth

While it is true that cutting down on smoking is better than chain smoking, only completely quitting will truly alleviate the risk of smoking during pregnancy.
Even if you do not smoke, it is important to eliminate your exposure to secondhand and thirdhand smoke as much as possible. Not only will avoiding smoking and secondhand/thirdhand smoke be good for the fetus, it will also do wonders for the health of the mother. Cleaner teeth, reduced risk of cancer and fewer wrinkles are just a few of the many health benefits a mother will enjoy by kicking the habit of smoking.

Smoking Dangers During Pregnancy

If you are a regular smoker, know that quitting is in the best interests of your baby. Try to quit completely because, while it is true that cutting down on smoking is better than chain smoking, only completely quitting will truly alleviate the risk of smoking during pregnancy.

As an incentive to quit smoking, it may help to know the risks you are causing to the fetus. First, smoking during pregnancy is known to increase the risk of premature birth. Premature babies are more likely to have health problems, and smoking also raises the risk of birth defects. Common birth defects and other severe health issues caused by smoking include:

The Harm of Taking Illegal Substances While Pregnant

While alcohol and tobacco use may get an outsized share of attention when it comes to “pregnancy don’ts”, illegal substances are also a huge risk to the fetus. It is imperative that expectant mothers understand the dangers of such behavior as the number of drug-addicted babies at birth are increasing.

The number of drug-addicted babies born in the United States has quadrupled over the last decade, thanks in large part to the country’s heroin epidemic. In 2004, just 7 out of every 1,000 babies were born with a narcotic dependency. Less than 10 years later, in 2013, that figure jumped to 27 out of every 1,000 babies.

It is also taking a longer time to wean babies off of their narcotic addiction, resulting in babies typically spending their first 19 days of existence in intense rehabilitation treatment. Naturally, these babies often suffer from a host of developmental problems. Some of these issues include:

Low Birth Weight
Premature Labor
Placental Abruption
Fetal Death

This assumes that the baby is even born at all. Miscarriages are a common result of using narcotics and other drugs during pregnancy. The exact health risks to both the mother and fetus depend on whether the substance in question is heroin, cocaine, PCP, LSD, methamphetamine, marijuana or some other drug. The one common thread between using any of these drugs is the fact that these substances significantly increase the health risk to the fetus.

Some of these drugs even increase the risk of maternal death as well, particularly the known narcotic killers such as heroin. If you are pregnant while addicted to drugs, it is critically important that you receive the help you need. If this situation applies to you, take action and locate a local treatment center by calling the National Drug Help Hotline at 1-800-662-4357 or the National Alcohol and Drug Dependence Hopeline at 1-800-622-2255.

Additional Toxic Chemicals and Substances to Avoid When Pregnant

If you were already aware of the dangers of drinking, smoking and taking illegal substances, what you may not know is the fact that other toxic substances can pose a pregnancy risk.

For example, if you enjoy eating tuna or other fish with high mercury levels, this could pose a risk to the fetus. While fish is ordinarily a high-protein and low-fat food choice, the risks of fish with high mercury levels are too great. For this reason, the FDA advises pregnant mothers to avoid fish with high levels of mercury since it may harm the brain and nervous system of a fetus.

A few of the fish known to have high levels of mercury include:

Tuna
Shark
Swordfish
King Mackerel
Tilefish

Not only should you try to avoid these fish during pregnancy, but it is also ideal to avoid consuming these fish during the breastfeeding phase. The aforementioned fish can contain enough mercury to harm a baby’s motor skills and nervous system if mercury is present in breast milk.

Additionally, try to steer clear of purchasing products containing phthalates. These substances are designed to increase plasticity and durability in a wide range of items. Some of those items include:

Cosmetics
Food Packaging
Children’s Toys
Paint
Detergents
Personal Care Products

Phthalates have been shown as potential links to breast cancer, and fetuses may suffer from increased sterility risk. If possible, try to locate as many phthalate-free items and household products as you can to prevent these risks to yourself and the fetus.

While this list is far from exhaustive when it comes to the substances and chemicals expectant mothers should try to avoid, it is a great starting point in improving the health of yourself and your fetus.

For more information about how to keep yourself and your fetus healthy, reach out to our team at Revere Health. We look forward to providing you with the advice and care you need to make a successful transition into motherhood.

The obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause, and beyond.

This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.

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