Avoid pesticides if you’re pregnant—or trying

lens4223622_1240474569food.jpgOne great thing any mom can do for a growing fetus—even before it’s conceived—is to eat organic produce. Studies have already linked pesticide exposure to impaired hormonal function in women and decreased semen quality in men. And just this week, the President’s Cancer panel issued a report urging the public, among other things, to eat foods grown without chemical pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics. (If you are “trying,” also be sure to check out “Natural Fertility Boosters” in this month’s issue, for nutrition, supplement, and self-care tips from the Harvard researchers who coauthored The Fertility Diet.

The panel’s report expressed concern that fetuses today are “pre-polluted” with hundreds of chemicals. Many scientists are concerned that being exposed to harmful chemicals during critical early development can lead to various health problems, including lifelong hormone disruption. From the letter to President Obama: “The American people—even before they are born—are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures. The Panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.”

It’s especially important to buy organic when it comes to fresh produce items that have been shown to retain the highest pesticide residues, including celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. For the full list, check the Environmental Working Group’s brand-new Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 guides.

One last caution: The President’s Cancer Panel’s report advises against heating plastic in the microwave as well as using water bottles that may contain BPA, or bisphenol A, a chemical linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and heart disease.

For more on natural fertility, read “Get pregnant after 35 (and 40!)" and "Pregnant? Eat Broccoli Sprouts".

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