6 Surprising Things That Can Affect Your Pregnancy

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pregnant woman

Pregnant or planning to get pregnant? Abby Myers, APRN-CNM, certified nurse-midwife with University Hospitals, offers these recommendations on six things that can affect your pregnancy:

Pets

Know when to be cautious. Spending time with furry four-footed companions during pregnancy could reduce your child’s risk for some allergies later on. But be careful with some pets and pet care chores. For instance, have someone else clean the cat’s litter box (feline feces may carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infections). Steer clear of pet mice, hamsters and guinea pigs (their droppings, saliva and bedding can transmit LCMV, a virus that can cause miscarriage). And don’t keep reptiles like turtles, lizards or snakes in your home during pregnancy or if you have kids younger than age 5 because these pets can carry salmonella.

Smoking, Secondhand and Thirdhand Smoke

Avoid it. Breathing tobacco smoke directly or from other people’s cigarettes, cigars and pipes could increase the risk for low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome and learning problems for babies. It also can increase your risk for miscarriage or stillbirth. Even exposure to smoke residue left behind on furniture, rugs, walls and car interiors can cause problems for your baby, such as interfering with healthy lung development.

Canned Goods, Some Plastics

Cut back if you can. Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A during pregnancy could increase your child’s risk for obesity during elementary school, researchers warn. Eat less canned food, avoid plastic food containers with recycling codes “3” or “7” on the bottom, and don’t microwave food in polycarbonate containers (hard, clear plastic – usually with a recycling code “7” on the bottom).

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)

Say yes to tests. Untreated STDs – whether you get one before or during pregnancy – can cause serious complications, including premature birth and low birth weight. Some, like the herpes simplex and hepatitis B viruses, can be passed along to your baby. That’s why all pregnant women are screened for STDs like syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV. Your doctor may also recommend tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea and hepatitis C if you are considered at high risk.

Household Cleaning Products

Mostly safe, but skip these. Open the windows and put on gloves when using cleaners with ammonia or chlorine. Using them as directed isn’t harmful, but the fumes could make you feel nauseated. Skip cleaning products with warnings for pregnant women, as well as those containing glycol ethers, such as some oven, grill, bathroom and auto cleaners. Opt for natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar.

Pesticides

Choose alternatives. At home, avoid chemical pesticides. Instead, use mouse traps or sticky traps. Or ask someone else to apply pesticides in your home and then open the windows to air it out.

Related links

With northeast Ohio’s largest pregnancy and childbirth services network, University Hospitals' team of doctors and midwives provide optimal care and support before, during and after pregnancy at convenient locations across the region. 

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