Pesticides and Pregnancy: Domestic Pesticides & Insecticides
Pregnant women should avoid pesticides, whenever possible. There is no substantial evidence that links exposure to pest-control products at levels commonly used at home to pose a risk to the fetus. However, California’s Defects Monitoring Program reports that three out of every four women are exposed to pesticides around the home, therefore fetus is subject to some form of exposure.
They also observed that pregnant women exposed to household gardening pesticides had a modest risk increase for oral clefts, neural tube defects, heart defects, and limb defects. Women living within 1/4 mile of agricultural crops had the same modest risk increase for neural tube defects.
All insecticides are to some extent poisonous and some studies have suggested that high levels of exposure to pesticides may contribute to miscarriage, preterm delivery, and birth defects. Certain pesticides and other chemicals, including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), have weak, estrogen-like (hormone imitating) qualities called endocrine disrupters that some scientists suspect may affect development of the fetus’s reproductive system.
The Environmental Health Perspectives Journal (EHP) Volume 110 reports that children who are exposed to indoor pesticides are at an elevated risk of leukemia. EHP Journal adds that the risk is increased during the first three months of pregnancy and when professional pest control services are used in the home.