Picture of Kristin Schafer

Kristin Schafer

Pesticides & pregnancy don’t mix. Really.

When you’re pregnant, there’s a lot to think about. If it’s your first, you’re vaguely aware that your life is about to change forever. In the meantime, you worry. Am I eating right? Taking the right vitamins? And just what do I need to know about pesticides and other harmful chemicals during pregnancy?

The critical importance of this last question just got an official nod from the largest national organization of OB/GYNs. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a groundbreaking report last month recommending that every mother-to-be receive advice in prenatal visits on how to avoid chemicals that can harm fetal development — and the future health of her child. This is a very good, very powerful idea.

Even more exciting is the fact that in California, a bill that transforms these recommendations into official state policy is currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting signature. The bill directs the state’s Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide pregnant women with the facts — in print and online — about pesticides and other chemicals that scientists say can harm fetal development.

The new law would also direct DPH to encourage OB/GYNs and midwives to discuss these issues with their patients, and advise them how best to avoid harmful exposure. If you’re a Californian and you’d like to voice your support for this very smart bit of legislation, please go here.

Chemicals in the womb

Policies like this are simple, commonsense steps that can have powerful impacts. Not to overstate things here, but we really are talking about the health of future generations.

It’s wildly encouraging that people are talking about how exposure to pesticides can harm a developing fetus.

As we outlined in our recent report, A Generation in Jeopardy, fetal pesticide exposure has been linked to falling IQs, developmental delays, increased risk of childhood cancer and more. Conversations about how to avoid such exposures during pregnancy should be front and center in prenatal visits, along with the usual advice on smoking, diet and vitamins.

It’s wildly encouraging that people are talking about how prenatal exposure to pesticides and other chemicals can harm a developing fetus and cause childhood — or even lifelong — health harms. From health professionals to researchers, from policymakers to the media, many professionals are tackling this thorny issue head on.

Not surprisingly, the chemical industry is nervous about this trend. The American Chemistry Council accused ACOG of creating “confusion and alarm among expectant mothers,” and that current regulations are plenty protective. Not to worry, right?

But the science on children’s health and pesticides says otherwise. I, for one, am thrilled that women are beginning to have more of the information they need to make health-protective decisions during pregnancy — and hopefully, help press for health-protective policies for us all.

Take action» Join us in calling on California Governor Jerry Brown to sign SB 460 into law. Help ensure pregnant women have the facts about how pesticides and other chemicals can affect fetal development — and how to avoid harmful exposure.

Picture of Kristin Schafer

Kristin Schafer

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