Mums-to-be should "play it safe" when handling chemicals in certain household products. That's the advice of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) over fears that substances found in some food packaging, cosmetics and family medicines could harm the development of their babies.
There is much uncertainty over the risks involved but RCOG believes pregnant women should be informed of the chemicals so they can take their own action to lessen the risks. However, its stance is being described as alarmist by critics, who claim that all it will do is add to the stress that pregnant women are already under.
RCOG's just-published Scientific Impact Paper confirms there are no official guidelines yet for pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding on the risks surrounding the chemicals and little evidence of possible harm, but it is still telling women to assume that the risks are real. The report says women come into contact with many different chemicals in household products and advises care when they are using such products as shower gels, sunblock and moisturisers, as manufacturers do not have to list chemicals that are found in very small amounts.
Women are advised to use fresh foods whenever they can to reduce contact with cans and plastic packaging, avoid paint fumes and pesticides, use fewer personal care products and only use medicines from chemists when necessary.
Tracey Brown, from the Sense About Science charitable trust, believes RCOG's report could place added stress on mothers and "do more harm than good".
Copyright Press Association 2013