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UK OBGYNs Target Household, Personal Care Products

July 10, 2013

• UNITED KINGDOM: A paper from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG) in the UK is stirring up controversy. It suggests that household cleaning products, shower gels and packaging are some of the items pregnant women should avoid in order to minimize harm to their unborn child—despite the current uncertainty surrounding their effects. The RCOG paper UK suggests pregnant women should be made aware of the sources and routes of chemical exposure in order to minimize harm to their unborn child despite current uncertainty surrounding their effects.

Recommendations made include minimizing the use of personal care products, avoiding paint fumes and use of all pesticides, and only taking OTC medicines when necessary. The authors explain that under normal lifestyle and dietary conditions, pregnant women are exposed to a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals at low levels and exposure to such chemicals can occur through many avenues.

RCOG says while the use of household cleaning products, like pesticides, are well-documented sources of chemical exposure, the paper points out the lesser recognized sources that could accumulate with the mixture effect posing potential harm.

In a press release, RCOG said, “The same caution is suggested for personal care products such as moisturizers, sunscreens and shower gels, as current legislation does not require manufacturers to name all potentially harmful chemicals, when used in low dose, on the product label.”

The paper recommends that the best approach for pregnant women to assume there is risk present even when it may be minimal or eventually unfounded.

Professor Richard Sharpe, Medical Research Council Centre for Reproductive Health, the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the paper, said, “For most environmental chemicals we do not know whether or not they really affect a baby’s development, and obtaining definitive guidance will take many years.
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