The Toxic Bodies of Pregnant Women

Researchers find multiple harmful chemicals in the bodies of pregnant women, including BPA and DDT

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to research from the University of California at San Francisco, practically all pregnant women in the U.S. have numerous foriegn chemicals in their bodies.

Some of these chemicals have been banned since the 1970s. The study, which is the first of its kind to measure the number of chemicals that pregnant women carry, is published in the journal Environmental Health Perspective.

In an analysis of data for 163 different chemicals, the University of California at San Francisco researchers found that 99 to 100 percent of pregnant women exhibited levels of the following chemicals: polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides, perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), phenols, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), phthalates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and perchlorate.

Within the study group, researchers found PBDEs, DDT, and Bisphenol A (BPA). PBDEs, now banned in many states, are used as flame retardants. DDT is a well-known pesticide that has been banned in the United States since 1972 when it was found to be highly toxic to humans and responsible for many adverse health issues. High levels of DDT have been linked to high rates of diabetes. BPA, which was found in 96 percent of women in the study group, is the compound that makes plastic hard and clear. It is found in many food and beverage containers, and has been linked to cancer and brain development defects.

According to Tracey Woodruff, Ph.D., M.P.H., and director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment, these results are highly concerning, especially considering that the implications of the presence of these chemicals remains partially unknown. It is highly likely that the chemicals are indeed harmful, as other studies have shown that the same chemicals increase the likelihood of such adverse health effects such as preterm birth and birth defects, childhood morbidity, and disease in adulthood.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 18, 2011
Last Updated:
January 19, 2011