Chemicals Can Reach the Baby in the Womb

New research reported in the September 7, 2005 BBC-News shows that chemicals found in perfumes and cleaning products can cross the placenta and reach the baby in the womb. In this study tests were carried out on blood samples from the umbilical cords of 27 newborn babies and 42 new mothers. The samples were tested for eight groups of chemicals, including those found in cleaning products and non-stick and waterproof coatings.

The results showed that all of the samples tested positive for at least some of the 35 chemicals tested. Some of the umbilical cord blood samples in the study contained as many as 14 of the chemicals, and two of the mothers tested positive for as many as 17 of the chemicals.

This study did not look at the effects of these chemicals on the health of newborns prompting some health officials in the UK to suggest that pregnant women should not be alarmed by the findings because they said there was no clear evidence that the chemicals were causing damage to unborn children.

These findings, however, do alarm many. Helen Perivier, Toxics Campaigner for Greenpeace International said: "It is shocking that such chemicals are in the human body at any stage of our life, let alone at the very start, when the child is most vulnerable." Andrew Lee of WWF-UK said: "These chemicals should not be in products, let alone in developing babies." Mr Lee noted that it is vital for the health of future generations that the European Union propose legislation and call for a wider ban on potentially toxic chemicals. The BBC article reported that the European Union is currently in the process of revising its chemicals policy.