Toxins to avoid when you're pregnant
I'm trying to steer clear of toxins. What are the major offenders?

The last thing you want to provide your bubby with is an in-womb environment that resembles a landfill. And although your placenta does a fine job of filtering nutrients between mother and child, it's just not equipped to handle all of the things that we're seeing in today's diet and environment.

It lets everything through that's below a certain size. That means any toxins that make the size cut can get passed to the fetus, whether it's gunk from cigarettes, saturated and trans fats, alcohol or other nasty substances.

So you're wise to get rid of the most harmful toxins in your life as soon as you decide to get pregnant or once you find out you are. Major ones include:

Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs
  • Tobacco and secondhand smoke.
  • Alcohol.
  • Marijuana and other recreational drugs.
Chemicals
  • Spray paints and paint thinners—use latex paint instead.
  • BPA, or Bisphenol-A, commonly found in plastic water bottles. Look for the number 2 or 4 inside the triangle on the bottom of the bottle—but not 3, 6, 7, 8 or 9. A 1 is acceptable but not reusable.
  • Phthalates, found in composite dental fillings and also released when plastic is microwaved.
  • Fluorotelomers, which are in linings of microwave popcorn bags, and stain-resistant carpets and furniture.
  • PCBs, polychlorinated biphenyls, which are organic compounds in fish caught from polluted waterways.
  • Pesticides.
  • Heavy metals such as mercury and lead.
  • Organic solvents such as toluene, xylene, benzene, tetrachloroethylene, ethylene oxide, acetone, acetonitrile (in nail salons) and formaldehyde.
  • Anaesthetic gases.
  • Excess radiation and radon. So avoid X-rays and frequent long-haul flights, and splurge on a $10 radon kit. Leave it in the basement overnight to check if your house is leaking this dangerous gas from the soil.
Foods
  • Hot dogs, lunch meats and saturated fats. These contain nitrates and methylates, which unwind the DNA that's not supposed to be unwound.
  • Trans fats (e.g., any "partially hydrogenated" ingredients).
  • High-fructose corn syrup.
  • Sushi, undercooked meat, soft cheeses (like brie or gorgonzola) and unpasteurized cheese and milk.
Medications
  • Pain-killers: Ibuprofen (found in Advil and Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) and aspirin. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) instead.
  • Acne medication: Accutane (isotretinoin).
  • Note: Don't stop any medications you're currently taking before talking to your doc. The issue of medicine is often a risk-versus-benefit decision. If you're at high risk of a complication by not taking your medication, you may very well be putting your baby in harms way by stopping.
Find more pregnancy answers.

Do you have more questions about pregnancy health? Get even more answers from RealAge's YOU: Having a Baby Center.