Hidden toxins? Researchers warn of potential hidden harm in pregnancy diets

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Hidden toxins? Researchers warn of potential harm in pregnancy diets

Related tags Childbirth Pregnancy Health care Caffeine

Pregnant women regularly consume foods and drinks that contain toxins believed to pose a potential risk to developing babies, say researchers.

The warning comes from US researchers who believe that public health officials should do more to advise pregnant women to avoid foods and beverages including caffeine, canned goods, certain types of fish and tap water - which they suggest could all be putting the development of babies at risk.

Writing in Nutrition Journal​, the research team US researchers found that the diets of pregnant Hispanic women included tuna, salmon, canned foods, tap water, caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications that contain substances known to cause birth defects.

"Unlike alcohol and nicotine, which carry a certain stigma along with surgeon general warnings on the packaging, tuna, canned foods, caffeine, and a handful of other foods and beverages with associated developmental effects are not typically thought of as unsafe,"​ explained Sarah Santiago from the University of California San Diego.

Santiago commented that their study is unique in that it highlights 'unseen dangers' of consuming potentially dangerous compounds in food and beverages - especially where these compounds are not typically thought of as unhealthy.

"Our main findings are summaries as percentages of women reporting consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages during pregnancies,"​ revealed the researchers. "For example, we found high numbers of Hispanic pregnant women consumed methylmercury through tuna, PCBs through salmon consumption, BPA through canned goods, DBAs containing tap water, caffeine containing beverages, and alcohol containing beverages during pregnancy."

"We also found that large percentages of pregnant Hispanic women reported eating high sugar sweet desserts and high fat and salt fast foods more than once a week,"​ the team said.

Santiago said she hopes that her study will encourage health care providers "to keep pregnant women well informed as to the possible dangers of unhealthy consumption habits."

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Risks and benefits of fish consumption

Posted by Thippeswamy Sannaveerappa,

I would like to draw your attention to few of the conclusions made by Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption.
1.Among women of childbearing age, pregnant women and nursing mothers, considering benefits of DHA versus risks of methylmercury, fish consumption lowers the risk of suboptimal neurodevelopment in their offspring compared with not eating fish in most circumstances evaluated.
2. At levels of maternal dioxin exposure (from fish and other dietary sources) that do not exceed the PTMI, neurodevelopmental risk is negligible. At levels of maternal dioxin exposure (from fish and other dietary sources) that exceed the PTMI, neurodevelopmental risk may no longer
be negligible.

You can access the full report at http://www.fao.org/docrep/014/ba0136e/ba0136e00.pdf

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The real risk of eating seafood during pregnancy

Posted by Rima Kleiner, MS, RD,

As a registered dietitian, I appreciate the sharing of information that will help pregnant women make informed food choices. However, the “study” referenced in this article is actually a poll of eating and drinking habits of pregnant women; the “study” does not research the health effects of eating these foods—including tuna and salmon—on pregnant women and their babies. On the contrary, however, a vast body of research shows that not eating seafood, including tuna and salmon, during pregnancy can have a detrimental impact on baby’s brain and eye development. Misinformation about which foods to eat and avoid during pregnancy causes undue confusion and anxiety amongst expecting moms.

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