Despite precautions that many pregnant women take to avoid substances that are dangerous to the fetus, they almost all have traces of chemicals in their blood, according to a recent study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
Researchers analyzed the samples from 268 pregnant women, which were taken during the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey from 2003 to 2004. They tested the women's blood for 163 substances in 12 chemical classes and found that certain chemicals were present in 100 percent of the pregnant women tested. In general, the women had the same amount of chemical exposure as non-pregnant women.
The danger of this exposure is that some of the chemicals that were studied have been linked to pre-term birth and birth defects for the child. They can cause childhood morbidity and adult illness as well. Furthermore, fetuses can sometimes receive more of some chemicals than is present in their mother through the umbilical cord, which researchers say is the case with mercury.
Complications during childbirth can sometimes lead to the death of the child, the mother or both. Pregnant women should consider life insurance to provide for the remainder of their family should they die while in labor.