My latest post for Moms Clean Air Force is about the dangers of seafood for people–pregnant or not. Has your OB or doctor ever warned you to be careful about which fish you eat?
I’m entering my third trimester and know I am going to have to take my glucose test [for gestational diabetes screening] at my next OB visit. Is there any (organic?) alternative to that standard gross dyed orange drink loaded with high fructose corn syrup? I have been avoiding foods containing dyes and HFSC when pregnant and would prefer not to have to drink this stuff.
First of all: congrats! And jinx. I’m outing myself here as I haven’t really been talking about this publicly, but I also just began my third trimester and dealt with this recently, so good timing.
If you’ve been avoiding dyes and HFCS for your whole pregnancy, one drink certainly won’t harm you and your baby, but I totally get where you’re coming from. That’s how I wound up in my doctor’s office eating 47 organic jelly beans at once. Oh the heart palpitations. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The answer is yes, there are alternatives. The wild card is if your OB or midwife is willing to let you try them. Basically you need 50-grams of glucose for the test and there are any number of ways to get that into your body, wait the required hour, then take the blood test. I’ve read anecdotal stories about pancakes with syrup and orange juice doing the trick. Same goes for cinnamon rolls or other sugary treats.
I also found this study about jelly beans as an alternative to the beverage and shared it with my OB who was happy to let me eat them instead of drinking. Keep in mind that while the study says it takes 28 jelly beans, you need to look on the “nutrition” label on the back of the jelly bean brand you choose; the glucose level is different in different products. We did the math together and I wound up having to eat a whopping 47 of the beans I bought for the purpose. Kind of gross and I would have preferred something else but I suspect it would be harder to measure out the exact grams of glucose in a pancake breakfast. I was so jazzed I left the office during my hour wait and did 5 errands before I came back for the blood draw.
While my OB was open and willing to let me swap where I was getting the glucose from, the nurse who took my blood did look at me like I had three heads when I mentioned I had eaten jelly beans instead of had the drink. Her bias didn’t phase me. I drank the glucose drink when I was pregnant with my daughter, now 6, and vowed never to do it again. I’m glad I didn’t have to.
I know people who are allergic to various food dyes and I think this is a great alternative for them, too.
Let me know how it goes.
I don’t like this response anymore than you like reading it. A while back a group of consumers petitioned Brita to make their water filters recyclable. I think it is high time someone–you?–starts a petition asking breast pump manufacturers to do the same. It should not be this hard to not add tons of breast pumps to the landfill.
Kelley and I went to see a screening of Toxic Baby together and I asked her to let me know what she thought. I loved what she wrote to me so much, I asked her if I could post it here. (I’ll admit that part of why I loved it is that interning with me, which isn’t exactly the most gain-office-experience-traditional internship, is adding a new layer of information and insight to her studies.) And she agreed. Her thoughts are below. If you haven’t had a chance to see Toxic Baby, I urge you to find a way to do so, or organize a screening near you. You can also see Penelope’s TED talk online. It’s worth a watch.
“I had the great opportunity to view a screening of Penelope Jagessar Chaffer’s documentary Toxic Baby. After screening this film about the health hazards of chemical exposures, it would not be an exaggeration to say that my mind was blown.
As an environmental studies student in college, you would suspect that the majority of the film would be a reiteration of what I have previously learned in class. However this was not the case. The majority of what I have learned in class has been mainly focused on the food system and global climate change. Though these two topics are extremely important, Chaffer’s documentary does not focus on these. Instead, Toxic Baby’s main focus was the toxicity of chemicals in products and in the home – aspects that have not yet been covered in my course of study.
The film follows Chaffer and her discovery of the dangerous effects that certain chemicals can have. It was not until she became a mother that she discovered this information and made it her duty to protect her child from these toxic chemicals. The film consults with experts on the dangerous effects that chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, and flame retardants have on pregnant mothers and their children. All of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors and exposure to these chemicals are linked to an array of health issues, such as cancer, many different birth defects, and many more.
Reading about these issues, you can sometimes get very lost, and that is why seeing Chaffer’s journey as a mother exploring these issues is so great. It lays out the information easily for the everyday person and with the perspective of a mother.
What concerned me most after viewing this film is really the lack of public knowledge of the subject. As I stated before, my own academics have not touched upon these environmental health concerns – and I’m an environmental studies major! Imagine the lack of knowledge of the general population in regards to this problem. And in the film Penelope’s knowledge on the subject only came about during motherhood. Hopefully, as this film gains notoriety and is seen by the general public, we can raise awareness of this serious issue and get these chemicals out of our homes.”
Thank you Kelley for coming to see the film with me and for letting me share your thoughts.
I blew off two hours of work this morning because I was glued to my computer watching the live streaming Environment and Public Works Committee hearing “Oversight of EPA Authorities and Actions to Control Exposures to Toxic Chemicals.” Today’s hearing came right before tomorrow’s vote on the Safe Chemicals Act, which Senator Lautenberg, among others, has been working on for years and years.
These hearings aren’t always the most riveting things to watch, but I laughed, I cried, I even cheered. Too bad it wasn’t on national television. It was good stuff. There were some incredible moments (Senator Barbara Boxer telling Marshall Moore, Director of Technology, Advocacy and Marketing Great Lakes Solutions, A Chemtura Business, to take an ethics lesson was a highlight) and some amazing testimony (I’m partial to moms and so was particularly moved by the strong words from Dr. Heather Stapleton, an environmental chemistry assistant professor at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and from Hannah Pingree, former Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, who is currently 6 months pregnant and knows more than a few things about body burden).
This is such a crucial moment. The fate of America’s public health is in government hands. So I’m writing this quick post to urge you to call your representatives and ask them to support the Safe Chemical Act being voted on tomorrow. The current legislation, the Toxic Substance Control Act, from 1976, is wildly outdated and ineffective (and wasn’t strong enough to begin with). If you don’t know who your senator is, you can call 202-224-3121 to be directed or look it up online.
The science and the evidence are undeniable. As people pointed out today at the hearing, the majority of Americans believe chemical companies must have unbiased proof that their products are safe before they come on the market, much like pharmaceutical companies are required to provide. This currently isn’t the case in our country.
If you think the burden of consumer product safety should be on the manufacturers and that humans—especially kids, who are more vulnerable than adults—should not be guinea pigs, please pick up the phone. This isn’t about anything other than common sense.
I was typing notes quickly as Senator Boxer posed the following closing question, so forgive me if it’s a bit paraphrased: “Do you believe that chemical manufacturers should have to show through unbiased studies that their products are safe for pregnant women…. If someone can’t answer that question with an affirmative response, they are putting special interest before the health of people, their own kids, and the first responders.”
Even if I missed a few of her words, it’s well put.
Now go make that call, please.
My superintendent is coming by today to set up the crib for baby #2. Last time around, I recall that you warned me not to put the kid in a (standard commercial) crib without applying some kind of sealant to keep it from . . . off-gassing, was it?
If so could I trouble you to remind me what that product was?…Thanks so much….
Thanks for the great question; lots of expecting parents have had similar inquiries. I answer this in The Complete Organic Pregnancy–and again in Planet Home!–and have excerpted a few paragraphs from the former below. Congrats on #2 and good luck!
When setting up a nursery, keep in mind that items you might want from small organic stores will take longer than you think to be shipped. Allow plenty of time, or you’ll be running through Buy Buy Baby in labor with a plastic changing table in your shopping cart. All the furniture in your nursery, and ideally the entire house, should be made of solid hardwood with a nontoxic finish. Avoid particleboard and plywood, which are held together with toxic formaldehyde-based glues, as well as plastic. We realize that plywood is ubiquitous. If you have something that’s made of plywood, you can seal it with Safecoat Safe Seal, a water-based low-gloss sealer for highly porous surfaces. Or speak to a Safecoat salesman about the best product for wood you want to seal.
Our basic advice is that you really won’t need half the stuff everyone insists you and your new pumpkin-sized roommate will need. We prefer to spend more money on fewer items. If you’re having trouble finding certified or recycled wood furniture for your baby, try to buy secondhand, or inherit hand-me-downs. Americans use about 27 percent of the wood commercially harvested worldwide. Much of it is harvested in an unsustainable (not naturally regenerating) manner, making the burden on forest ecosystems that much greater.
Just recently finished [The Complete Organic Pregnancy]. My husband and I have been recently trying for a baby and prior to that I probably devoured a dozen books on pre-pregnancy and I have to say your book is the most substantial and downright fantastic out of all of them! What I appreciated most from your book was how easily your research and tips could translate into everyday life and also how to truly make both your body and the environment both inside and outside the most optimal possible.
In saying that, I am left with a few questions:
1. Juices: I now know to avoid them, but what about smoothies, ingredients consist of whole fresh organic fruits, organic milk and ice??
That’s it, thank you so very much! Your book is the best gift I could have asked for and consult it regularly!!
You’re so welcome! Thanks for writing in.
I have a question for you. I am coming to you because I actually didn’t know who else to ask. I am about to have a baby and in March we got new furniture from Restoration Hardware. It clearly has a toxic smell. I try and avoid the room and keep the windows open but the smell has not gone away. First I would like to know- what do you think the smell actually is? Second, how dangerous is this to my bay in my belly? Thirds, how would you get rid of it? (air purifier, etc.) Obviously I will keep the baby (when born) out of the room, but I am freaking out that my new furniture is really hurting my baby.
Thank you for taking the time to send me your question. What kind of furniture are you referring to? I can’t tell you what the smell is without smelling it myself, unfortunately. And even then I might not know. That said, your nose knows. Truly. If it doesn’t smell good, it likely isn’t good. And you’re right not to want your growing baby around a seemingly questionable unknown. There are all kinds of things that can be lurking in furniture that would be best avoided, including formaldehyde–a known carcinogen–in the glues binding particleboard.
You can avoid this by carefully shopping for furniture. Once you already have a stinky table/cabinet/whatever in your house, there is one way to seal in offgassing chemical emissions from new furniture that has porous surfaces: in The Complete Organic Pregnancy and Planet Home I recommend AFM Safecoat Safe Seal, a water-based low-gloss sealer. Call the company directly to describe what you’re contending with and they can advise you. They also sell a variety of paints, stains, and more.
Ventilation (open your windows!) and air purifiers also help. So can taking the furniture outside if you can (make sure you have it under somewhere in case of rain). And the strongest offgassing will diminish as time goes by. If it continues to bother you, you might want to cut your losses and seek something else.
Here’s a passage from Planet Home where I discuss Safe Seal:
Much new furniture is made of composite woods like particleboard and medium-density fiberboard, which are temptingly inexpensive but best not brought into the bedroom; these can off-gas formaldehyde. Though the vapors from new furniture containing formaldehyde glue diminish over time, they remain in high concentrations in smaller and improperly ventilated rooms. If you have reason to suspect the fumes in your home are too high, there are inexpensive kits available that have been used by the Sierra Club to test levels in FEMA trailers. For less serious levels, there are also houseplants known to act as air filters. If you have a piece of composite wood furniture you love and don’t want to part with, move it to a room in the house where you spend less time. You can also seal in the emissions…[from] composite wood parts with a product proven to reduce formaldehyde emissions, such as AFM Safecoat Safe Seal.
For more on which houseplants to use, check this out.
Thrilled for this delightful mention of The Complete Organic Pregnancy in a baby basics post on KidsAroundCanada.com
“I strongly recommend you get your hands on Alexandra Zissu’s The Complete Organic Pregnancy. This book preps you for the “before, during and after” of pregnancy and guides parents-to-be through everything from the safest laundry detergent to safe household cleaners, to organic baby food recipes. I promise you won’t let this book stray far from your nightstand.”