©Koren Reyes, http://maternitybykoren.com/
Many pregnant women worry about what they eat, their changing body shape, their daily habits, or how they will nourish their baby after birth... not many take into consideration how their grooming habits might affect their developing baby.

Babies are first exposed to many harmful addititives, metals, and chemicals while in the womb. In fact, we, as a society, can find it very difficult to not be exposed to these chemicals, metals, and additives, but we should try.

Thankfully, there are organizations and coalitions that are cropping up all over our country in the hopes to put tighter regulations on what is allowed into our common household products, including cleaning supplies, carpet fibers, perfumes, makeup, hairspray, body washes, shampoos, lotions, and more.

In the mean time, these same organizations are providing databases of companies that knowingly sell products with these harmful additives in them, so that we, the general public, can become more knowledgeable and proactive consumers.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition effort launched in 2004 to protect the health of consumers and workers by securing the corporate, regulatory and legislative reforms necessary to eliminate dangerous chemicals from cosmetics and personal care products.
Key nonprofit coalition partners in the Campaign include the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow (represented by Clean Water Action and Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition), the Breast Cancer Fund, Commonweal, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth and Women’s Voices for the Earth. The Breast Cancer Fund, a national 501(c)(3) organization focused on preventing breast cancer by identifying and eliminating the environmental links to the disease, serves as the national coordinator for the Campaign.
They work with more than 100 endorsing organizations, thousands of grassroots supporters and over 1,300 companies that have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetics.

On their site, you can find information on unsafe additives in common newborn and baby products, as well as find out which cosmetics and grooming products may pose a risk to your health or that of your unborn baby.

Skin Deep is a great resource that works toward cosmetic safety, including an extensive cosmetic database.
Skin Deep helps fuel the nationwide Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of public health, educational, religious, labor, womens, environmental and consumer groups working to protect the health of consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of dangerous chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives. Through the Campaign, as of May 2007 over 500 companies have joined the effort by signing the Compact for Safe Cosmetics. Environmental Working Group is a founding partner of the Campaign.
There is much research to suggest that the toxins, including retinoids, metals, and the chemicals called phthalates, could be directly linked to women's health issues as well as birth defects.

via Interior Female Worlds©

Lead is a heavy metal and known neurotoxin that can possibly:
  • affect fetal development
  • interefere with calcium absorption
  • cause behavioral problems
  • cause neuro defects, including learning and language problems
  • cause infertility and/or miscarriage
Mercury is a known toxin heavy metal, absorbed through the mucous membranes, that can possibly:
  • cause neurological issues, interfering with nerve impulses
  • cause damage to the central nervous system, endocrine system, kidneys, and mouth/teeth/gums 
  • cause birth defects, including nervous system damage, resulting in brain damage, hearing loss, and learning disabilities, in babies whose mothers are exposed
  • cause autistic behaviours in young children
  • read more about it, and a ban, here
Phthalates are salts or esthers used for plasticization and can possibly:
  • cause damage to the sexually reproductive cells of the male, causing undescended testes sperm malformations, and low sperm count when exposed inutero and during childhood and adulthood
  • cause hypospadias in male children/adults who were exposed inutero
  • cause an increased risk in testicular cancer in adult males who were exposed inutero
  • cause an exacerbated reaction to any allergies already present
  • cause premature breast development and early puberty in girls who were exposed inutero and during childhood
  • cause preterm birth 
This is a list of additional questionable ingredients that should be avoided at all times during life, but especially during pregnancy, as you are responsible for the life of your unborn baby.
  • Mineral Oil or Wax (including Paraffins) - derived from crude oil, this 'moisturizer' traps toxins and wastes under it's film and hinders normal skin respiration, causing skin problems, including slowed cellular regeneration, earlier signs of aging, long-term exasperation of eczema, acne breakouts, rashes, and infections. It also disrupts hormonal activity and is suspected to cause cancer
  • Collagen - a protein that is too large to penetrate the skin, insoluable in the body, it has the same risks as mineral oil. Made from ground of animal skins and chicken feet. 
  • Preservatives, such as Formaldehyde and BHT (aka tolulene, benzoic, benzyl)- these are known toxins and carcinogens that can cause altered behaviours (neurologically), cancers, tumors, anemia, low blood cell count, liver and kidney damage,  and, hypothetically, cause the same health problems or increased risk in the developing fetus. 
  • Fragrances -  can refer to any of four thousand ingredients. Many of these are toxic and/or carcinogenic. Symptoms include: headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions, skin rashes, discoloration, irritation, blisters, and more. Clinical tests have shown that these fragrances can affect the central nervous system, resulting in depression, irritability, hyperactivity, allergies, and asthma.  Read more about that here. 
  • Talc - a recognized possible carcinogen, it is possible it increases the risk of lung and ovarian cancers.
As we are coming up on Halloween, it is very interesting to read this report, based on the lead levels in children's Halloween face paint.

If you are a healthcare worker, consider this report.
The inquiry found that all of the 20 participants had toxic chemicals associated with health care in their bodies.  Each participant had at least 24 individual chemicals present, four of which are on the recently released Environmental Protection Agency list of priority chemicals for regulation.  These chemicals are all associated with chronic illness and physical disorders.

“The health care profession is asking whether we can reduce prevalence of disease by changing the way we manage chemicals. Nurses and doctors volunteered for this study because they believe it is their responsibility to better understand how chemicals impact human health,” explained Kristen Welker-Hood, ScD, MSN, RN, director of Environment and Health Programs, Physicians For Social Responsibility, co- principal investigator and a co-author of the report.

Other findings include:
  • Eighteen of the same chemicals were detected in every single participant
  • All twenty participants had at least five of the six major types of chemicals tested
  • Thirteen participants tested positive for all six of these major chemical types
  • All participants had bisphenol A, phthalates, PBDEs and PFCs, priority chemicals for regulation by the EPA and associated with chronic illness such as cancer and endocrine malfunction

As a professional in the childbirth field, I am happy to have found the Washington Toxics Commission (WTC) website, which includes how to avoid many of the toxic and carcinogenic ingredients above during pregnancy, as well as how to avoid them in the nursery. And finally, I recommend that every professional in the childbirth field read this report, published by the Washington Toxics Commission:

It might seem daunting to avoid so many toxins, especially when they are so rampant in our everyday lives, but small steps can have a large impact, and that impact will be passed on, not just to your unborn child's generation, but to the many generations beyond theirs.

For alternative products: 
Moms, Safe Milk
Tara Spa
Kiss My Face
Earth Mama Angel Baby
JASCO Organics
Burt's Bees - need to be selective
Jason's Natural - need to be selective
Noli N Nali
Beauty Without Cruelty
Avalon Organics


Mama Christina said...

Good info, Nice list! Earth Mama Angel Baby products are great, too.

Koren Reyes said...

You're terrific to share such important info with the community. Thank you for using my picture - and for so graciously asking permission. I wish everybody were as considerate as you! Keep in touch,

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Burt's Bees is on there. Kinda bums me out about that. I have really tried to avoid toxins lately and was so good when my children were younger, but it is expense! They waste soap so much, but they have gotten much better. I have gone to buying California Baby again and burt's bees. I also love Avalon stuff! Thanks for the symptoms information too. I am keeping this page marked :)


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