Mamahood & Me

Nutrition What To Avoid

 What to avoid - the A-Z guide 


Exposure to drugs, chemicals, pesticides, solvents and pollutants can adversely affect reproduction. Toxins are everywhere and it is impossible to completely avoid them but awareness of how some may cause you and your baby harm means you can do your best to steer clear of them.

Aspirin.  Studies have shown that there may be problems for your baby if you take aspirin regularly in full adult doses. The same goes for other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  such as ibuprofen. It is best to avoid non-prescription drugs during pregnancy many of which contain aspirin.

Bedding.  Mattresses are likely to be made from synthetic materials like polyurethane foam which constantly breaks down releasing chemicals. Stain proofed, waterproofed and fire retardant mattresses all contain toxic chemicals. You can avoid exposing your baby to toxic chemicals by sourcing natural, untreated or organic bedding.

Cigarette smoking is linked with fetal growth restriction and premature birth. Smoking may

also cause problems with the development of the brain, cardiovascular system, and respiratory system. This is true whether the mother smokes herself or is exposed to second-hand smoke. 

Dry cleaning. Many dry-cleaning solvents are neuro-toxic. Do not dry clean materials like rugs, bedding  and curtains that are in a babies bedroom. In general avoid dry cleaning. 

Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) are any chemical that can interfere with normal hormone functions in humans and/or animals.  Whilst natural EDC’s are found in plants as phyto-oestrogens it is the synthetic ones that can wreak havoc on the reproductive system. 

EDCs are present in a wide variety of products including plastics, pesticides, cosmetics, food & water; they enter the human body principally through ingestion of contaminated food and water, or through skin from personal care products and exposure to soil or dust particles. Avoid plastic, eat organic and use natural body care products to help minimise exposure.

Fabrics. Nylon can contain hydrocarbons and petrochemicals such as phenol and benzene, which are developmentally toxic.  Polyester emits small amounts of formaldehyde. non -organic cotton & wool can have the residues of chemical pesticides.  Try to source organic  cotton & wool, hemp or bamboo are other alternatives.

Gas heating.  Benzene, a product of gas heat, is a carcinogen.  Animals exposed to inhaled benzene during pregnancy had offspring with low birth weights and bone marrow damage.  Carbon monoxide from all forms of fuel burning is also a recognised developmental toxin.

Maximise ventilation and use a carbon monoxide detector at home.

Hair products. Use of chemical hair colours and dyes that touch the skin has been linked to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Women who plan to conceive, are pregnant, or breast feeding should avoid colouring their hair unless they are using safe & natural alternatives.

Insect Sprays. Active ingredients in some repellents can cause health problems in babies and children. Only use natural herbal sprays.

Junk food is highly processed laced with compounds that are harmful to you and your baby

Keep calm and avoid stress. When a pregnant women is stressed or anxious, blood flow to the uterus can decrease by as much as 60% so that the baby gets less oxygen and nutrients. Stress hormones in the mother’s blood can also go across the placenta and adrenaline appears to have long term effects on a baby’s brain development. 

Lead poisoning can cause miscarriage or premature birth. The risk these days in the UK is very low as generally lead is no longer used in petrol, pipes, paint & containers. Stripping old paint or water from old pipes may cause contamination

Mercury which is found in some types of fish, has been linked with the development of neurological problems as well as intellectual disability. If you eat fish choose  varieties low down the food chain (small) to avoid the bio-accumulation of mercury.

Nappies. Many have been bleached with chlorine and contain dioxins.  Some have pictures made from potentially toxic dyes.  Some cloth nappies also contain synthetic fibres that release toxic chemicals.  Plastic nappy covers can emit chemicals, too.  A huge variety of organic cotton, hemp and bamboo reusable nappies are available.

Organophosphates are widely used insecticides that have been linked to central nervous system problems.. Exposure during pregnancy may impair child cognitive development. Organic food should have zero or very low levels of such toxins.

Paint. The chemicals used in many paint and paint thinners can be extremely noxious.  Seek out natural paints free from harmful chemicals.

Question everything and avoid anything you think might have a negative impact on you and your baby

Radon. An odourless gas that is a product of uranium decay and seeps into homes from underlying bedrock.   Radon meters are available that will locate the radon hot spots, often in the basement or ground floor.

Saccharin. An artificial sweetener that is 300 times sweeter than sugar.  It is manufactured by combining anthranilic acid  with nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia.  Everyone should avoid artificial sweeteners but especially pregnant women and those trying to conceive.

Toluene. Most mainstream nail polishes contain toluene, a suspected carcinogen, along with phthalates and formaldehyde. Together, they are known as the "toxic trio," and they form a potent combination of toxins that you want to avoid at all times, especially during pregnancy. 

Unscented products. Avoid synthetic fragrances used in household cleaning products, room fresheners  as they are known to be  harmful to you and your unborn baby. Beware products that list ‘fragrance’ in the ingredients as these are generally harmful compounds. Synthetic musks used in perfumes are harmful to the reproductive system.

VDU. Radiation is most likely not an issue but it would be prudent for a pregnant women not rest a laptop on her tummy and to take frequent breaks when working on a computer. 

Wipes. Commercial baby wipes often contain chemical cleaning agents, dyes and fragrances that can be harmful to developing babies. They probably also contain dioxins because most have been bleached with chlorine. Use a damp piece of organic cloth instead

Xylene. Avoid this chemical solvent which is found in glues, paint, varnish and rubbers and has been linked to neurological impairment and increases the risk of miscarriage. 

Yo-yos. Regulations are in place in the UK regarding the materials used in making children’s toys. However research has found that plastic toys over 20 years old contain high amounts of cadmium, lead and arsenic, so not such a good idea to pass older toys down! 

Zika. The zika virus can be passed from mother to baby causing birth defects. Avoid travelling to places where mosquitos that spread the disease live