Chemicals, Some Banned, Found in 99% of Pregnant Women

If you’re expecting a child, or thinking of becoming pregnant, I’m afraid this post is going to be one depressing read. 99% of women in a study conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco were found to have “multiple chemicals, including some banned since the 1970s and others used in common products such as non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products.”

Lead author Tracey Woodruff, PhD, MPH, director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, noted that it was indeed “…surprising and concerning to find so many chemicals in pregnant women without fully knowing the implications for pregnancy.”

In the study (which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives on January 14th), researchers analyzed data for 268 pregnant women from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) 2003-2004, a nationally representative sample of the U.S. population. This is what they found, as noted in Science Daily:

Analyzing data for 163 chemicals, researchers detected polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate in 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women. Among the chemicals found in the study group were PBDEs, compounds used as flame retardants now banned in many states including California, and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), an organochlorine pesticide banned in the United States in 1972.

Bisphenol A (BPA), which makes plastic hard and clear, and is found in epoxy resins that are used to line the inside of metal food and beverage cans, was identified in 96 percent of the women surveyed. Prenatal exposure to BPA has been linked to adverse health outcomes, affecting brain development and increasing susceptibility to cancer later in life, according to the researchers.

Exposure to chemicals during fetal development has been shown to increase the risk of:

  • preterm birth and birth defects
  • childhood morbidity
  • adult disease and mortality

Pesticides have certainly been investigated as a potential cause of autism and developmental disorders, as well as ADHD.  

Further, the researchers noted that chemicals can ‘cross the placenta and enter the fetus.’ Other studies have found that chemicals detected in a mother’s urine and serum have also been found in amniotic fluid, cord blood and meconium.

If you’re planning on getting married or having a baby and friends wish to hold a shower, maybe it would be well to specify safe cookware (not the non-stick type) on your registry? And to go through the contents of your kitchen cabinet and make an inventory of what might be safe and what not. Maybe you can be even more firm now in telling your mother-in-law you really don’t need those 1970′s-era pots and pans from the back of her kitchen cabinet…

I apologize if I sound a bit alarmist. My son is autistic and while we do think that genetics had a lot to do with things for him, I can see why many people are concerned as to whether ‘something’ in the environment or some household chemicals or others might ‘contribute’ to a child having some health or learning issues. 

We all want our children to be healthy, happy, and safe, yet every day we seem to hear about something else that endangers their and our lives. As Peggy Orenstein wrote in the New York Times Magazine after learning that the air quality around the Berkeley (California) schools that her daughter attended “fell in the lowest 10 percent” if not in the “bottom 1 percent,” in the whole country:

Since December [of 2008], when the report came out, the mayor, neighborhood activists and various parent-teacher associations have engaged in a sometimes-acrimonious, acronym-laced battle over its validity: over the culpability of the steel-casting factory on the western edge of town, over union jobs versus children’s health and over what, if anything, ought to be done.  With all sides presenting their own experts throwing down the gauntlets of conflicting scientific studies, whom should parents believe?  Is there truly a threat here, we asked one another as we dropped off our kids, and if so, how great is it? …this latest drama, repeated in various permutations in so many communities, is a crucible for how today’s parents perceive risk, how we try to keep our kids safe — whether it’s possible to keep them safe — in what feels like an increasingly threatening world. It raises the question of what, in our time, “safe” could even mean. —-from The Toxic Paradox, February 2009 [my emphases]


How “safe” can we make the world for our children, even before they are born?

Photo by raebrune.


Sandra D.
Sandra D.8 years ago

regarding the above comment by the poor people who have an autistic child.Mercury in Vaccines & other heavy metals & excito toxins in the brain ie MSG, Aspartame,Splenda, all interrupt the neural pathways. Chelation therapies have been shown to remove these toxic disruptive substances from the brain reversing the infliction of autism sometimes over 80% & what a blessing that would be for the Precious child & dear family. It is a very sad & trying situation to find oneself in, I have all too many acquaintances who find themselves in similar situations ... all because the med & pol establishment keep this from the public, what IS going on here? Go to YouTube, see Dr Sherry Tenpenny & Dr. Russell Blaylock, see "Don't take the Vaccine" & search & learn more. Time to protect our children! STOP the madness, VACCINES ARE DEADLY as are artificial sweeteners. Time to get back to real food. Start your own Victory Garden look into Polytunnels, watch "How to Save the World" about Biodynamic expert Peter Proctor, See "Food Forest" Geoff Lawton, Permaculture. Food doesn't need to have 62 ingredients on the label, most of them chemicals you can't pronounce, apples sprayed w 26 layers of pesticides, coated in wax so you can't get it off before giving it to your kids? Carbon dioxide gassed meat to keep it red, hydrogenated oils blocking arteries, hormones in milk, what gives? Get Natural go Organic, LIVE A LONG HAPPY LIFE or die early because of what you

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman8 years ago

thanx for article

kenneth m.
kenneth m8 years ago

Ban them again

April Gray
April Gray8 years ago

what i find truly scary about this is those chemicals didn't just magically appear when the women became pregnant. those chemicals could (& likely are) in any one of us right now. jeez, just when i was about to go to sleep, i get fodder for nightmares.....

Valjean O.
Valjean O8 years ago

SCARY! its the unseen thats killing us silent but deadly, finally a voice is being given, all of us have way too high toxin levels in our bodies now:(

Diane Wayne
Past Member 8 years ago

This is truly hideous news! Those poor innocent unborns, and their mothers! How long is this going to be allowed to continue. I hope all the pregnant mothers out there will get a petition going and send it to President Obama. If this is not an epidemic, I don't know what is!

Joshua I.
Joshua I8 years ago

Kristina Chew:
Exposure to chemicals during fetal development has been shown to increase the risk of:
•preterm birth and birth defects
•childhood morbidity
•adult disease and mortality
Very Very Good,... I Agree...
You defined my previous posts with precision...
Now here's another situation that is not made public.....
The FDA has published many reports on acceptable safe levels of toxicity for every chemical (based on what an adult or child can withstand); however, no study or report has been made available for the safe toxic levels that a developing fetus can withstand, or what level of toxicity will be safe for the developing fetus, and if they did, those safe levels will be, at least, 80% lower than it is at present.
You are the first to publish this credible factual report, so don't let it be suppressed,... take it viral over the internet....
You Have Made A Fool Out Of The FDA.... Good Job....

Lauren A.
Lauren A8 years ago

Thanks for the article

Arthur Joyce
Arthur Joyce8 years ago

To me this is just one more nail in the coffin of capitalism, or at least of monopoly capitalism. When the GNP goes up because more people had cancer this year than last, as just one example, it illustrates clearly what a suicidal course we are on. The so-called "captains of industry" may think their billions will protect them but this study makes it obvious that no one on the planet is exempt from toxic poisoning. This is something environmentalists have been trying to get through to us for four decades or more. As Julia Butterfly Hill so aptly said, when you throw something "away", there is no "away." The ecosystem of the Earth is one closed loop system, so what's dumped in China eventually makes its way to us in air, water, or other means. Until we impose limitations on corporate charters making them financially responsible for their toxic byproducts, this will never change. And unless it does, we are on our way out as a species.

April Thompson
April Thompson8 years ago

Just awful!