Important: The list of concerns, below, is, by no means, exhaustive. And, because I am not a licensed medical service provider, some references here may also be flaky. The prenatal period is so important, I get the willies every time I post here. Use the information here only as suggestions to mention to your doctor (prenatal medical care is a must-have).
Acesulfame potassium (ace K) may cause premature delivery.
Maternal acetaminophen (Tylenol, paracetamol) use:
Acetaminophen doesn’t work for pain, anyway. There is little or no difference between paracetamol and placebo for improving outcomes in people with acute low back pain. Paracetamol is also unlikely to provide meaningful levels of pain-relief for the majority of people with a range of other pain conditions too, including neuropathic pain, osteoarthritis, cancer pain, acute postoperative pain and migraine.
Information on 1,101 mother–child pairs showed that acrylamide intake may result in low birth weight.
Air fresheners often contain phthalates that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Even air fresheners marketed as “all-natural” or “unscented” contained the hazardous chemicals.
Chemicals that are used extensively in consumer products and that have become widespread in the environment are toxic to the unborn. Some are chemicals to which children and pregnant women are regularly exposed, and they are detected in the bodies of virtually all Americans in national surveys conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increase children’s risks for neurodevelopmental disorders. Examples are combustion-related air pollutants, which generally include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and other air pollutants for which nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter are markers. Epidemiological, toxicological, and mechanistic studies have together provided evidence that clearly demonstrates or strongly suggests neurodevelopmental toxicity for lead, mercury, OP pesticides, air pollution, PBDEs, and PCBs.
Exposure to ambient air pollution has been associated with reduced size of newborns.
Maternal exposure to higher levels of air pollution is associated with lower IQ scores in their children.
Barbeque fumes are a hazard to the fetus.
No alcohol while pregnant – especially in the early stages
Maternal alcohol consumption messes with offspring neurogenesis
Maternal alcohol consumption changes genes associated with stress response and circadian oscillation.
Maternal alcohol consumption increases the chance of offspring depression.
Maternal alcohol consumption increases the chance of offspring alcohol addiction
Fetal alcohol syndrome is a disaster
Teenage binge drinking can affect the brain in future offspring
Paternal alcohol consumption three months before conception can affect the future fetus’ heart. A study in mice showed brain abnormalities in offspring.
A maternal plant-based diet for slimmer, leaner babies.
Anesthetic use is harmful to the fetus
Topical almond oil might cause preterm birth
An increasing number of studies demonstrate that exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) affect both the mother and the fetus giving rise to growing concerns surrounding these exposures.
EDCs can causehypospadias in baby boys.
Phthalates causes decreased activity in offspring.
Phthalates may harm the fetus’ brain, even at low levels.
Prenatal phthalate exposure associated with autistic traits in young boys.
Phthalates can causes harm via dad’s exposure.
Phthalates attenuated the brain size and the number of proliferating neurons in zebrafish embryo.
causes hormonal abnormalities and early puberty.
Phthalates are in hundreds of products, such as vinyl flooring, lubricating oils, and personal-care products (soaps, shampoos, hair sprays).
Shanna H. Swan Ph.D. tells it like it is.
Food is the leading source of exposure. Phthalates have been found in dairy products, meats, fish, oils & fats, baked goods, infant formula, processed foods, and fast foods. Phthalates are not intentionally added ingredients but rather “indirect” food additives. They easily escape from food processing equipment, food packaging, and food preparation materials, and contaminate food at points all along the supply chain. This includes food-processing equipment, such as PVC tubing used in milking and to transfer milk between farms and processing plants. Phthalates are also found in some food packaging and preparation materials, such as PVC gloves used to prepare food and adhesives and printing inks on packaging.
Avoid bisphenol-A: it may affect multiple future generations via the epigenome!
Bisphenol-A affects the cholinergic nervous system.
Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure at low “environmental” level impedes both the development and metabolism of an embryo, drawing a link between BPA and later-life obesity.
Prenatal exposure to most phthalates and BPA was associated with greatly reduced odds of adrenarche and slightly reduced odds of puberty. Some phthalates and BPA were associated with increased sex hormone levels and decreased total and free testosterone levels.
Exposure to the endocrine-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy can cause oxidative damage that may put the baby at risk of developing diabetes or heart disease later in life
Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) during pregnancy, even at levels lower than the regulated “safe” human exposure level, can lead to changes in circadian rhythms. These changes may be a contributing factor in hyperactivity seen in BPA-exposed mice.
As with BPA, there is evidence in mice that BPS is an endocrine disruptor. Maternal care of pups, including mothers’ ability to adjust to the needs of their young during early development, was impaired after BPS exposure.
BPS can penetrate through the maternal placenta, so whatever is circulating in the mother’s blood can easily be transferred to the developing child. Chemicals like BPS have the ability to lower the placenta’s serotonin production. Lower levels of serotonin can compromise fetal brain development because during this critical time in development the brain relies on the placenta to produce serotonin. Thus, developmental exposure to BPA or even its substitute, BPS, can lead to longstanding health consequences.”
Folate and genistein (salad and soy) may help offset the DNA damage caused by BPA exposure.
GMO soy, though, has more Roundup herbicide residue
maternal high blood pressure → possible miscarriage
eat enough while pregnant!, to prevent childhood obesity, especially methyl donor nutrients
cannabis caution →stillbirth, brain abnormalities, or not
→behavior and memory problems
→low birth weight→ more irritable infants
→vulnerable to stress later in life, impaired learning and memory
→autism in offspring – or maybe not
→psychosis in offspring
Paternal cannabis use→ widespread changes in autism candidate gene DLGAP2 DNA methylation in sperm.
A study of 11,489 children revealed that children whose mothers had used during pregnancy were more likely to have psychotic-like behaviors and more attention, social and sleep problems, as well as weaker cognitive abilities.
One-time THC exposure may produce effects similar to fetal alcohol syndrome.
In any case, choline, a B vitamin, may mitigate any hazards.
- some cases of autism
cesarean delivery results in a similar infant microbiome as vaginal delivery.
it may act epigenetically to protect multiple generations from Alzheimer’s
Those enjoying a plant-based diet are at risk for deficiency– oh, wait, probably not! Eat radishes and other quality plant-based foods.
Too much psychostimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, or amphetamine→ mental illness.
paternal cocaine use → profound memory impairment in offspring
Coffee caution: Caffeine consumed during pregnancy can change important brain pathways that could lead to behavioral problems later in life. Researchers in the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) analyzed thousands of brain scans of nine and ten-year-olds, and revealed changes in the brain structure in children who were exposed to caffeine in utero. Elevated behavioral issues, attention difficulties, and hyperactivity are all symptoms that researchers observed in these children.
cytomegalovirus infection → birth defects
Vitamin D is not much found in breast milk, so the preterm maternal vitamin D status is important.
vitamin D vs. offspring allergy
vitamin D vs. future type 1 diabetes
vitamin D vs. infections and autoimmune disorders
vitamin D vs. offspring multiple sclerosis
vitamin D vs. neonatal tetany (siezures)
vitamin D vs. preterm birth
vitamin D is a marker for sun exposure, either or both of which may benefit:
offspring dental health
DEET is safe vs. Zika
dental diligence → better pregnancy outcome
ginger for pregnancy-associated nausea
maternal high gluten diet → type 1 diabetes in offspring
the influenza vaccine-miscarriage study should not be cause for alarm
Maternal depression → impaired offspring immunity and attention problems.
minimize omega-6 oil consumption (in sunflower oil, meat)
see the post on depression
Essential nutrients found in fish counteract and provide neuroprotection against mercury in fish. Eating fish during pregnancy can help provide essential nutrients to the developing fetus.
The Ω-3 DHA is critical to the healthy development of eyes, nervous system, and brain.
Fish oil for prevention of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder.
Fish oil for better problem solving, higher IQ in progeny.
From this video by Dr. Mike Hansen: If a pregnant woman consumes excess fructose from soda or candy, fructose will cross the placenta into the fetus with metabolic effects in the baby. Fructose also affects the baby’s taste buds which develop at 8 weeks gestation. That is why it is possible for a baby to be addicted to sugar at birth. Here is the reference used by Dr. Hansen.
high blood sugar can also be due to glucosamine supplementation
high blood sugar, even without diabetes →heart defect risk
may also cause heart problems in offspring
gestational diabetes may be an offspring cognitive hazard
carnitine may help, avoid a low-carb diet, but eat a quality plant-based diet
fast food, bacon (any meat) and eggs, sweets (more) → gestational diabetes
gestational diabetes → future health problems for mom
maternal drug use before pregnancy (which drugs?) → mom’s poor mental health
e-cigarettes may cause mental health problems in offspring
Endocrine disrupting chemicals, especially mixtures thereof, may increase the odds of language delay in offspring of up to 54% of pregnant women.
exercise promotes offspring brain development
exercise is anti-inflammatory – a good thing (see below)
less markers of ageing in offspring
Maternal exercise prevents offspring from developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in life.
Paternal exercise also prevents offspring obesity and type 2 diabetes
Paternal exercise for cognitive benefit in offspring.
A maternal high-fat (fast food) diet (HFD) creates problems that last generations.
Excess fat from a mother’s high-fat diet triggers immune cells to over-consume serotonin in the brains of developing males, leading to depression-like behaviors in the offspring.
A maternal HFD + obesity makes preterm weight loss a must!
A maternal HFD reduces beneficial gut microbiota for offspring.
A maternal HFD impairs the gut barrier during pregnancy→ reduced placental oxygen levels.
But now, a mouse study supports adequate fat in the maternal diet to reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s in offspring.
also breast cancer in rat progeny
why this happens
and substance abuse
maternal exercise may help avoid some of these problems
Intermittent fasting is not recommended for those who are pregnant.
Microplastic particles from maternal fish consumption can cross the placental barrier.
→ lower risk of offspring leukemia
Folate is best gotten from plants and beans: There’s a Goldilocks effect with folic acid. Too little is not good, too much is not good; you have to get it just right.
Consume high-folate foods even before trying to conceive.
A good diet also aids offspring immunity.
A low glycemic index diet for a better pregnancy outcome and to help with gestational diabetes. For people with gestational diabetes, eating a low GI diet may reduce the risk of macrosomia. This is a condition that results in larger-than-average babies, which can lead to numerous short- and long-term complications for both the person giving birth and the baby.
glycol ethers cause birth abnormalities
see the Avoiding Parkinson’s post for countermeasures
Herpes (HSV-1) infection can spread to the fetal brain during pregnancy, resulting in an increased risk of neurodevelopmental disabilities and neurological deficits.
heart disease can start in the womb
Homocysteine is an intermediate metabolite implicated in the risk of placenta-mediated complications, including preeclampsia, placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, and pregnancy loss.
maternal chronic inflammation:Homocysteine is an intermediate metabolite implicated in the risk of placenta-mediated complications, including preeclampsia, placental abruption, fetal growth restriction, and pregnancy loss.
Changes in fetal microglia caused as a result of maternal inflammation could contribute to the development of schizophrenia, autism, and other psychiatric or developmental disorders.
see the two inflammation posts
third trimester anti-inflammatory drug and foods caution
get a flu shot and see the immunity post
Maternal iodine intake is important.
maternal iron status is important for avoiding pregnancy complications and for brain development.
A maternal ketogenic diet is bad news.
Prenatal lead exposure → neurodevelopmental disorders – even tiny amounts
Prenatal lead exposure → alcohol dependence disorder.
Exposure to metals such as nickel, arsenic, cobalt and lead has been associated with problems at birth such as preterm birth and low birth weight in babies, and preeclampsia in women. Those metals may disrupt the endocrine system. The disruptions may contribute to health and disease risks for the offspring later in life.
See this Long-Term Cognition post for information on lead exposure.
Garlic can be recommended for the treatment of mild-to-moderate lead poisoning.
→ gestational diabetes
barbecued meat is hazardous for a fetus
maternal nut consumption → less chance of offspring nut allergies
paternal alcohol consumption → fetal alcohol syndrome
→ less intelligent offpring
maternal obesity, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes or smoking→ complicated pregnancy
→ heart disease in offspring later in life
Both NMN and exercise may reduce the negative metabolic consequences of maternal obesity in the offspring. Both interventions reduced the amount of body fat in mice, and led to some improvement in glucose tolerance and markers of mitochondrial function.
About weight gain in pregnancy.
Maternal obesogen intake→ obesity in offspring.
An increasing number of studies demonstrate that exposure to endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) affect both the mother and the fetus giving rise to growing concerns surrounding these exposures.
Maternal intake of phthalates, even in dad, are bad news (bisphenol A is one of them).
EDCs may cause miscarriage.
persistent organic pollutants (POPs) (includes pesticides) →
high risk of miscarriage
poor lung function
insulin resistance at age 5
may affect multiple generations
low level chlorpyrifos exposure→poor brain development
the best protection is a maternal and paternal vegan diet
a carefully-chosen plant-based diet that supplies lots of folate
maternal polyphenol intake may protect the embryo’s brain in the case of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).
maternal positive thinking →better math and science ability in progeny
strong non-ionizing radiation, such as from radar installations→ genetic alterations
soda → preterm birth, more
calorie-free soda contain aspartame (Nutrasweet):
pregnancy may not be the cognitive threat once thought to be the case
synthetic progestin → poorer offspring cognitive function?
adequate maternal protein is important for a number of reasons – in rats.
a vegan diet may be adequate for humans and obesity
a high protein diet, especially of animal origin → obesity in offspring, even grandkids
Cannabis in pregnancy → preeclampsia
salmon consumption → less protective antibodies
high maternal saturated fat consumption → less fetal beta cell development (type 1 diabetes)
morning sickness treated by ginger and, last resort: cannabis
Maternal smoking may cause schizophrenia, tourette syndrome, and also obesity.
The obesity connection is really strong, as shown by this meta-analysis of 229,000 births, and also this systematic review and meta-analysis of 39 studies of 236,687 children from Europe, Australia, North America and South America and Asia.
Second hand smoke in pregnancy → irregular heartbeat years later
even prior to pregnancy
Maternal prenatal stress → mitochondrial dysfunction in progeny.
maternal sugar consumption, in excess, is bad. This includes high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
music heard just before birth is remembered – so make it good!
music therapy may also benefit mom: less pain and depression
teenage fatherhood is fraught with genetic peril
Vaccines do not cause autism when administered during pregnancy.
Water needs increase during pregnancy to support fetal development and maternal health. Offspring height and weight are affected.
Maternal obesity even affects grandchildren.
Paternal under-nutrition may also cause offspring obesity (in mice), but not if the father mouse supplements with antioxidants and vitamins.
limit corn and canola oil when expecting to prevent childhood obesity
non-stick cookware, microwave popcorn bags
the maternal diet shapes offspring taste preferences (kale: yum!)
maternal smoking → offspring obesity
Maternal stress → preterm birth and faster ageing in progeny.
Preterm Neurological Health
air pollution → less emotional regulation in offspring
aged mothers and/or fathers may be causative of offspring ADD
aspartame may affect spatial cognition
barbeque smoke causes weight deficit and small head
random mutation risk may be minimized by following recommendations about telomeres in this Longevity post
maternal use of acetaminophen (paracetamol, Tylenol)
excessive vitamin B12 – especially in combination with excessive folate
Maternal vitamin D may increase newborn vitamin D. In vitamin D-deficient male fetuses, an enzyme which breaks down testosterone was silenced and could be contributing to the presence of high testosterone levels. Vitamin D plays a critical role in brain development and that giving vitamin D supplements to mice during pregnancy completely prevented autism-like traits in their offspring. Children born to women who had low blood levels of vitamin D while pregnant more than double their risk of autism.
having a first-degree relative with epilepsy
Pieces of bacterial cell wall may cross the placenta and enter developing neurons, altering fetal brain anatomy and cognitive functioning after birth.maternal inflammation.
high paternal intelligence
Cow casomorphins (from milk) may play a role in a disease such as autism.
MTor overactivation causes spine pruning defects in mice, so controlling mTor might prevent some cases of autism. MTor is covered in the Cancer Causative post.
maternal pesticide exposure (probably messes with genes)
Maternal stress can be made worse by genetics.
maternal genital herpes infection
lack of adequate nutrition
Chemical exposure can be made worse by genetics.
Shown by a meta-analysis of more than 500,000 mother-child pairs.
Shown by a meta-analysis of nine studies.
Exposure to a common pesticide chlorpyrifos synergizes with a frequent autism-linked gene mutation to increase autism risk.
mono-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (MEHP), di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate (DEHP)
in PVC flooring, children’s toys, and cosmetics and lotions
bisphenol A (BPA) exposure
mitochondrial health is in the energy post
maternal gut bacteria protects the developing brain
maternal cannabis caution
cell phones and beepers may interfere with the fetus sleep/wake cycle
get sufficient choline
vitamin E for brain development
maternal ecstasy use → offspring as adults with memory problems
Sources of Ω-3 fats are fish oil, flax seed, and nuts.
Sources of Ω-6 fats are meat, dairy, and vegetable oil.
folic acid supplementation caution get it from salad!
adequate maternal iron → better offspring brain
lead from black tea (more than green tea) is a concern
maternal meat consumption → infant exzema
obesogens in meat → childhood obesity – even in grandchildren
maternal cured meat consumption → pediatric brain tumors
prevents any cognitive benefit from exercise throughout adult life
algae may be less risky
mercury containing amalgam tooth fillings are not hazardous
phosphatidyl choline for offspring cerebral inhibition → less behavior problems
cucurmin (from turmeric) to the rescue?
see the Avoiding Diabetes post for more on pesticides
a maternal plant-based (antioxidant-rich) diet
→ better offspring brain
→ because heart disease can start in the womb
avoid quaternary ammonium compounds – maternal or paternal exposure
used as disinfectants and preservatives in household and personal products such as cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softener, shampoo and conditioner, and eye drops
maternal rice consumption→ infant arsenic overload
paternal stress →
anti-psychotic medication caution
it may be best to ditch Teflon pans altogether, — especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have young children. PFOA in particular is tied to problems with kids’ development. That’s because this chemical is considered an endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with the body’s hormone system.
Ω-3 and Ω-6 (polyunsaturated) fats are both important