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Organic Solvents Linked to Heart Defects

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heart defect and organic solvent link discussed iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Most of us know that prenatal care is essential to the health and well-being of both mother and baby.

After the initial excitement of seeing that little blue “yes” on the pregnancy test, a search for the perfect obstetrician is made, life styles are changed and bad habits put aside for the duration of the pregnancy.


All these changes are made for the sake of giving this new little one the best possible start in life. It’s rare that an expectant mother doesn’t immediately seek out the best way to ensure a healthy baby once she knows she’s pregnant.

But, what if it’s not just the things you do during pregnancy that impact the future health of your unborn child?

What if the things you do -- or are exposed to -- before pregnancy occurs cause harm to the child before conception occurs? According to a new study, exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace before pregnancy occurs may lead to heart defects in children yet to be born.

Heavily used in industrial environments, organic solvents are extremely common. Based on hydrocarbons and containing carbon atoms, organic solvents are the chemical miracle that melts old nail polish from your fingernails, removes spots, thins your paint (turpentine), removes glue, and enables dry cleaners to work their magic. Organic solvents are also used in detergents as well as perfumes.

Organic solvents are everywhere.

Unfortunately, organic solvents can enter into the body through the lungs, skin, and even the mouth.

According to some results from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, workplace exposure, that is, too much exposure to organic solvents increases the risk of several different types of heart defects at birth.

The increased risk was not limited to exposure after pregnancy occurred. Study authors found that women who were exposed as much as a month prior to conception, as well as those exposed during the first trimester, shared an increased risk of heart defects to their unborn -- and in some cases not yet conceived -- babies.

The findings were based on a review of 5000 participants in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study between 1997 and 2002.

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EmpowHER Guest

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October 23, 2014 - 12:46pm
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