OBGYs Advise Pregnant Women to Live As If They Have MCS/ES!

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released a new paper regarding everyday chemical exposures during pregnancy, and confirmed that there are sufficient indications that all is not well, that some of these chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis are linked to causing some serious health problems, so it is better to be safe than sorry and avoid as many exposures as possible during pregnancy.

It’s high time time doctors stop being afraid of the chemical and pharmaceutical companies to speak up and out about this!

I applaud them for finally having the courage!

Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy
(Scientific Impact Paper 37)

“the approach recommended is for such women to put ‘safety first’. That is, to assume that risk is present even when it may be minimal or eventually proven to be unfounded. This is often referred to as the ‘precautionary approach’.

The Advice

to reduce overall chemical exposure:

● use fresh food rather than processed foods whenever possible

● reduce use of foods/beverages in cans/plastic containers, including their use for food storage

● minimise the use of personal care products such as moisturisers, cosmetics, shower gels and fragrances

● minimise the purchase of newly produced household furniture, fabrics, non–stick frying pans and cars whilst pregnant/nursing

● avoid the use of garden/household/pet pesticides or fungicides (such as fly sprays or strips,rose sprays, flea powders)

● avoid paint fumes

● only take over–the–counter analgesics or painkillers when necessary

● do not assume safety of products based on the absence of ‘harmful’ chemicals in their ingredients list, or the tag ‘natural’ (herbal or otherwise).

RCOG Advice

If you substitute “woman” or “pregnant woman” with “person who has MCS/ES”, and change “minimize” and “reduce” to “avoid”, and “pregnancy” to “probably permanently”, you get a pretty good idea of what doctors (who often have no idea or training about MCS/ES) should be saying to people about life with MCS/ES.

But really, it’s good advice for everyone.

Please note that children should also be protected from these same exposures, as their brains and bodies are still developing and these exposures can interfere with normal development and daily functioning.

They did omit one other very important exposure to avoid during pregnancy, and that is exposure to wireless radiation from sources such as cell towers, WiFi and devices like mobile phones, DECT phones, and even wireless baby monitors!

What follows are more excerpts from the paper and the links to it

The mother is the guardian of her baby’s development and future health; any external influences on the baby predominantly come from the mother. This important conceptual point may not be fully appreciated by many women that are pregnant.

(That statement is somewhat disturbing, because it lays the responsibility, and guilt, on the mother, instead of on the chemical companies and regulators who are allowing these harmful substances into our foods and products, without our knowledge or consent)

Epidemiological research has linked exposure to some of these chemicals in pregnancy with adverse birth outcomes; pregnancy loss, preterm birth, low birth weight, congenital defects, childhood morbidity, obesity, cognitive dysfunction, impaired immune system development, asthma, early puberty, adult disease and mortality (cardiovascular effects and cancer). 5

In addition, impairment of fertility and fecundity in women 6 and impairment of testicular development and reproductive function in males, have been associated with fetal exposure to everyday chemicals in the environment.

Another confounding factor is that virtually all women who are pregnant are exposed to certain chemicals because they are found in everyday products. The chemical bisphenol A is found in drinks and food cans and phthalate esters are found in plastics, carpets, fabrics, personal care products and glues.9

In this instance, the approach recommended is for such women to put ‘safety first’. That is, to assume that risk is present even when it may be minimal or eventually proven to be unfounded. This is often referred to as the ‘precautionary approach’.

Food is an important source of exposure to environmental chemicals and can occur in several ways.

Most people are unaware that food can also be contaminated by chemicals from handling equipment used in food processing. Chemicals can also leach into food packaging and containers, including food and beverage cans.12

Fresh food will generally contain fewer non–food chemicals and/or lower levels than processed oven–ready/microwave–type meals.

Another important source of chemical exposures for women is cosmetics/personal care products,15 especially those applied to the skin over a large surface area to facilitate their absorption; moisturisers, sunscreens, cosmetics, fragrances, shower gels and hairsprays.16–17 The amount of these products routinely used by women has increased dramatically in recent decades.

Current legislation means that manufacturers are not required to name all potentially harmful chemicals in the ingredients list if they are not considered as an active ingredient. The use of the terms ‘natural’, ‘non–toxic’ and ‘green’ on packaging is unregulated.

Examination of 43 ‘alternative’ products bearing labels that indicated they were free of chemicals, reported the presence of 5 different phthalates despite no mention of phthalates in their ingredients.18

A product favoured and rated by a popular environmental health website that was marketed for babies, children and adults with sensitive skin was also examined. In this product, phthalates were also the most common type of chemical to be found in the inactive ingredients.

An increased use of baby care products such as lotions, powders and shampoo is associated with higher exposure to phthalates in babies.19

These examples highlight the limitations of product labelling and demonstrate how women may be led to assume a product is ‘safe’ to use during pregnancy when not all ingredients have been taken into account.

It is impossible to compile a list of such hidden ingredients because these are known only to the manufacturer of a specific product

Women are also exposed to chemicals from various household products.

This includes; cleaning products, air fresheners, furniture, carpets/fabrics and DIY agents such as paint and glue. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) is one chemical in household products that is used to make flame retardants in furniture, electronics and cars. Another is perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that are used to make materials that are resistant to stain, oil and water.20

A variety of drug prescriptions and dietary supplements contain phthalates in the tablet coating which brands them as inactive ingredients/excipients.23 Due to this, phthalates are not required to be listed on product labels. This is another route by which over the counter medicines are everyday sources of unintentional chemical exposure.

it is important for women that are planning or are pregnant to be aware that ‘natural’ products do not indicate they are safe for use during pregnancy.

The reason for the growing concern over everyday chemical exposure effects is because many of these chemicals have the potential to interfere with one or more hormone systems in the body, which play key roles in normal fetal development.

These so–called ‘endocrine disruptors’, of which BPA plastics, PBDEs and phthalates are examples, have the potential to mimic/block endogenous endocrine hormone action
and therefore disrupt normal fetal development.

A relevant example of this is ‘anti–androgenic’ chemicals such as certain phthalates which can interfere with masculinisation of male fetuses, a developmental process which relies on normal production by the fetal testis of androgenic hormones early in pregnancy.

Realistically, women that are pregnant are exposed to a complex mixture of hundreds of chemicals at low levels.8,9 But, methods for assessing the risk of exposure to complex chemical mixtures is not developed at present.


Despite uncertainty surrounding the effects of common environmental chemicals, mothers should be made aware of the sources and routes of exposure, the potential risks to the fetus/baby and the important role that the mother can play in minimising her baby’s chemical exposure.

Such information should be conveyed routinely at infertility, antenatal and well woman clinics as well as via the media. In this way, women will be made aware of the uncertainties which will enable them to make informed choices regarding lifestyle changes which can be made to minimise environmental chemical exposure to their unborn child.

Chemical Exposures During Pregnancy (Scientific Impact Paper 37)


Full Paper:

Click to access 5.6.13ChemicalExposures.pdf

With gratitude to The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Predictably, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry front groups are crying foul over this sensible and precautionary advice given by the Royal College of OBGYs.

I hope those at the Royal College will stand tall and firm and also develop the courage to speak up about the dangers of our increasing exposure to wireless radiation!

Rates of reproductive difficulties, child neurological problems, respiratory ailments, digestive difficulties, allergies and even child cancers have been climbing in alarming ways at the same time we have been inundated with toxic chemicals in everyday products and materials, and subjected to increased radiation from cell phones, cell towers and Wi-Fi. Reducing exposures and preventing the problems from developing in the first place is therefore the really sensible thing to do.

Until the ingredients of everyday products and materials can be properly tested and the harmful ones are banned from use, we all need to avoid the ones we know or suspect are contributing to the growing amount of serious health problems in children, and indeed in all people.

Safe(r) alternatives are available. Check Foods and Product Info in the sidebar

9 responses to “OBGYs Advise Pregnant Women to Live As If They Have MCS/ES!

  1. Therese S. Leja Aguilar

    Linda, I’ve been following your blog now for a while. You can’t imagine how extremely usefull all your newsletters are! I’m here in Spain with severe MCS/ES and other Environmental Illnesses from Heavy Metal Poisoning that have been brought on or severely affected by the “drilling down” of a huge MERCURY Amalgam filling to “fit” a denture!
    I have been seriously mercury poisoned by this and have lost all faith in the dentists and most doctors here as they have all been trying to cover all this up and refuse to acknowledge this and accept their responsabilities to their patient “abandoning” me and telling me I have a cronic disease (no name) they are not qualified to recognise, diagnose or treat! I have no aid or support (except a few fellow sufferers on line).
    Thank God I have found a good doctor who is helping me but it’s a private practice and I can’t afford the doctors, treatment, environmental control, etc…etc.. I need.
    I can hardly even concéntrate enough to write a short e-mail and the exposure on the PC after a while makes me feel even worse (sick) so I can’t go on to explain everything but I am “hooked” on your news letters and when I can I’m reading and watching previous posts. You have helped so much and still do! More than you know !
    Thank you so much for “being there”, take good care and please “keep up the GOOD WORK” (I pass these on to my doctor and my “on-line” companions). My warmest regards, Therese.

    • Hello Therese,

      I am sorry you too have fallen through the canyons of care (what most people think are little cracks).
      I am happy you have found a supportive doctor and hope that there are people who can help you pay for what you need to improve your health.

      I am under the impression that there are some good people organizing in Spain, that there had been some progress there?
      Do you know of Eva’s blog? (I think google changes the last letters depending on what country you are in)

      She has many resources listed there!
      Local support makes so much difference, even online. So many of us are housebound and isolated because there are so many toxic chemicals in use today.

      We have needs, and rights, and gifts to offer the rest of the world, if only they open their minds and hearts.
      Sending you much love!


  2. Excellent advice! (Linda, I just want to let you know that my Daisies and Vinegar blog is now called Distilled White and is back online. Please see the new URL below. Thanks!)

  3. New, from The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

    Committee Opinion

    October 2013


    Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents

    ABSTRACT: Reducing exposure to toxic environmental agents is a critical area of intervention for obstetricians, gynecologists, and other reproductive health care professionals. Patient exposure to toxic environmental chemicals and other stressors is ubiquitous, and preconception and prenatal exposure to toxic environmental agents can have a profound and lasting effect on reproductive health across the life course. Prenatal exposure to certain chemicals has been documented to increase the risk of cancer in childhood; adult male exposure to pesticides is linked to altered semen quality, sterility, and prostate cancer; and postnatal exposure to some pesticides can interfere with all developmental stages of reproductive function in adult females, including puberty, menstruation and ovulation, fertility and fecundity, and menopause. Many environmental factors harmful to reproductive health disproportionately affect vulnerable and underserved populations, which leaves some populations, including underserved women, more vulnerable to adverse reproductive health effects than other populations. The evidence that links exposure to toxic environmental agents and adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes is sufficiently robust, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine join leading scientists and other clinical practitioners in calling for timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents while addressing the consequences of such exposure.


    The evidence that links exposure to toxic environmental agents and adverse reproductive and developmental health outcomes is sufficiently robust, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) join numerous other health professional organizations in calling for timely action to identify and reduce exposure to toxic environmental agents while addressing the consequences of such exposure (1, 22, 23). Reproductive care providers can be effective in preventing prenatal exposure to environmental threats to health because they are uniquely poised to intervene before and during pregnancy, which is a critical window of human development. An important outcome of pregnancy is no longer just a healthy newborn but a human biologically predisposed to be healthy from birth to old age (3, 24).

    Toxic Environmental Agents

  4. Linda thank you for being a nucleus for which those of us that wish to live in a nontoxic world can rally around. My son and I both have MCS. I thought I was vigilant while I was pregnant by avoiding obvious pesticides, cleaners etc. I did not know at that time about the toxins in fragrances that are now life threatening to me and my son. There is a great video at TED.com called the Toxic Baby if anyone doubts what we’ve done to the future of the human race. The video can also be found on my blog at: lifeinthecitywithafuture.wordpress.com — post The Canary in the Coal Mine.
    If someone prefers that route. Thanks again and I hope you have a fragrance free day. Colleen

    • Thanks Colleen. We need more people speaking up about how toxic chemicals are injuring so many of us in so many ways.

      Here are direct links to the Toxic Baby TED talk and other very important films (2 have just been released this year). I just recently posted the link to “Chemerical” which is also informative and a bit fun to watch, as the Goode family take their discovery and transformation journey.

      “Unacceptable Levels”

      “The Human Experiment” (narrated by Sean Penn)

      “Toxic Trespass”

      “Living Downstream”

      TED: Tyrone Hayes + Penelope Jagessar Chaffer: The toxic baby
      (The Toxic Baby website itself has too many moving parts for most people who have any form of brain injury to handle)

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