Monday, May 13, 2013

Chemicals and Conception

Celebrating Mother's Day yesterday reminded me again of what a blessing it is to be the mother of two amazing young men. As I ponder the gift of motherhood, I can't help but think of a number of people I know who would very much like to be parents, but have found that goal difficult to achieve. There are many possible reasons for infertility, but a factor that may be overlooked, and that can be controlled to an extent, is exposure to chemical toxins. (How did you know I was going to say that?)

Earlier this year, the journal Environmental  Health Perspectives published a study that examined "persistent pollutants" and the time to pregnancy of couples wishing to conceive. The study and a report of it published in E Magazine noted the following:

  • Couples exposed to toxins known as persistent organic pollutants took longer to become pregnant.

  • Men’s chemical exposures were more important to the equation than their partners'.

  • The concentration of chemicals found to delay conception was lower than the average found in the U.S. population.

An online article entitled "Toxins and Fertilitynotes that only about 5 percent of the almost 80,000 chemicals used in the US today have been tested for their reproductive effects. Despite that, we do know that certain chemicals may cause problems for couples wishing to become parents. The article and a fact sheet produced by Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families list the following chemicals that may affect reproduction:

  • Phthalates, which are widely used and may be found in nail polish, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, antiperspirant, sunscreen, gum, candy, medications, and many other places

  • Parabens, added to a wide range of household products, including bath products and cosmetics

  • Bisphenol A (BPA), which can be found in polycarbonate plastic and some food and beverage can linings

  • Cadmium, a metal used in pigments, metal coatings, plastics, and batteries

  • Fluoride, added to many municipal water supplies

  • Common pesticides and fungicides, including Vinclozolinis, Kepone, DBCP, ethylene dibromide, and  Methoxychlor (MCX)

  • Triclosan (Microban),found in anti-bacterial soaps, dental products, cosmetics, deodorant, first aid products, kitchenware, appliances, toys, and more

The chemicals listed are linked to a wide range of other health effects as well. Avoiding them benefits us all.

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