Chemical Exposure During Pregnancy

Solvent Safety

If you've ever painted your walls, you've probably worked with solvents. Solvents are chemicals that dissolve other substances and may be found in alcohols, paint thinners, household cleaners, and varnish removers.

A Canadian study found that women who were exposed to solvents during their first trimester of pregnancy were 13 times more likely than unexposed women to have a baby with a major birth defect. Studies have also shown that women exposed to high levels of solvents called glycol ethers were almost three times more likely to miscarry than unexposed women.

If you're pregnant and working with solvents, read labels carefully and avoid toxic products (such as some oven cleaners). It's also best to work in a well-ventilated area, wear appropriate protective equipment, such as gloves, and never eat or drink in the area.

Most likely, your home is free of environmental hazards that could harm your baby. But by taking some simple precautions to minimize your exposure to potential hazards, you can protect your baby from possible risks.

Dr. Schwarz is an obstetrical consultant to the March of Dimes. He is also past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Vice Chairman for Clinical Services, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Maimonides Medical Center; Emeritus Distinguished Service Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, both in Brooklyn.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, May 2004.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your won health or the health of others.

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