It’s become commonplace for pregnant women to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. When should they start eating healthier for the next generation?
Studies of accidental death victims aged 3 to 26 found fatty streaks—the first stage of atherosclerosis—present in nearly all American kids by the time they were 10 years old. These fatty streaks can turn into full-blown plaques by our 20s and 30s, and can start killing us off by the time we’re 40 or 50.
Atherosclerosis may start even before birth. Researchers found that the arteries of fetuses whose mothers had high LDL cholesterol levels were more likely to contain arterial lesions, suggesting atherosclerosis may not just start as a nutritional disease of childhood, but one during pregnancy.
Pregnancy and BBQ? Though lung cancer is attributed primarily to smoking, approximately a quarter of cases occur in people who’ve never smoked. Some might be due to secondhand smoke, but another contributing cause may be another potentially carcinogenic plume: fumes from frying. A study on pregnant women and barbecuing found that not only was the ingestion of grilled meat in the third trimester associated with smaller birth weights, mothers merely exposed to the fumes tended to give birth to babies with a birth-weight deficit.
And industrial pollutants? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most women’s bodies in the United States are contaminated with heavy metals, toxic solvents, endocrine-disrupting chemicals, fire retardants, chemicals from plastics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and banned pesticides. In many cases, 99 to 100 percent of the women were found to have detectable levels of these pollutants in their bloodstreams. Pregnant women were found to harbor, on average, up to 50 different chemicals, and researchers found detectable DDT residues in 95 percent of umbilical cord samples from women who had recently given birth—and this is now decades after the pesticide was banned. Which foods seem to contribute the most heavy metals and other pollutants? The number-one source of arsenic was poultry among preschoolers and, for their parents, tuna. The top source for lead? Dairy. For mercury? Seafood.
If women want to clean up their diets before conception, results suggest that within a year of stopping fish consumption, we can detox nearly 99 percent of mercury. Unfortunately, other industrial pollutants in fish can take longer: The half-lives for certain dioxins, PCBs, and DDT by-products found in fish are as long as ten years.
Image Credit: AND-ONE / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Pregnancy
All Videos for Pregnancy
Should Pregnant Women Take Calcium Supplements to Lower Lead Levels?
The effects of sodium and calcium intake on blood lead levels in pregnant and breastfeeding women.
The Rise in Blood Lead Levels at Pregnancy & Menopause
The lead trapped in our skeleton can leach back into our bloodstream when we temporarily or permanently lose bone due to pregnancy, weight loss, menopause, or osteoporosis.
Exclusion Diets for Eczema
Infants of mothers randomized to cut out eggs, milk, and fish were significantly less likely to have eczema even years later.
Best Foods for Autism
The sulforaphane found in five cents’ worth of broccoli sprouts is found to benefit autism in a way no drug ever has in randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.
Lead Contamination in Hot Sauces
Given the lead contamination found in chili-containing candies imported from Mexico, 25 hot sauces were tested for heavy metals.
How Much Arsenic in Rice is Too Much?
Strategies to reduce arsenic exposure from rice.
Arsenic in Rice Milk, Rice Krispies, & Brown Rice Syrup
I recommend people switch away from using rice milk.
Arsenic in Infant Rice Cereal
Pediatric nutrition authorities have recommended that when it comes to rice and rice-based products, arsenic intake should be as low as possible.
The Effects of Too Much Arsenic in the Diet
Even at low-level exposure, arsenic is not just a class I carcinogen, but may impair our immune function and increase our risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
What Is the Ideal White Blood Cell Count?
Since white blood cell count is such a strong predictor of lifespan, what should we aim for and how do we get it there?
Yellow Bell Peppers for Male Infertility & Lead Poisoning?
Daily supplementation with 1000mg of vitamin C was put to the test to see if it could improve male fertility and lower lead levels.
Treating Bacterial Vaginosis with Vaginal Vitamin C
Vitamin C pitted head-to-head against antibiotics for bacterial vaginal infections.