ALARMING trend of premature births tied to THESE plastic chemicals

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plastic-chemicals-linked-to-premature-births(NaturalHealth365)  The March of Dimes Report Card paints a stark picture: last year, 380,548 babies in the United States came into the world earlier than expected.  It’s a reality that hits close to home for many families, stirring up a mix of emotions ranging from joy to worry.  Defined as births before the 37-week mark, these premature arrivals often bring both relief and concern for parents and healthcare providers alike.

Adding to these worries, recent research published in The Lancet Planetary Health reveals a troubling connection.  It suggests that the rising number of premature births may be tied to the widespread presence of plastic chemicals in our environment and the products we use daily.  This finding raises important questions about the safety of our surroundings and the well-being of our families, prompting us to take a closer look at the factors influencing this concerning trend.

10% of premature births are tied to plastic chemical exposure

The widespread presence of chemicals in our environment and everyday products is contributing to a concerning statistic: one in every 10 premature births can be attributed to these substances.  Expectant mothers encounter these chemicals in various ways, from using plastic items in daily life to cooking, cleaning, and other routine activities.

At the center of this issue are certain chemicals known as phthalates.  These compounds are commonly used to soften plastics found in a wide range of consumer goods, including toys, personal care products, packaging, and more.

While scientists have long recognized that phthalates can disrupt hormones, recent research is raising alarms about their impact on human reproduction.  Analyzing data spanning from 1998 to 2022 from the National Institutes of Health Environmental Influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program, researchers examined the relationship between 20 different phthalate metabolites and factors such as gestation age, birth weight, and birth length.

The study, which involved over 5,000 pregnant women in the United States, found that higher levels of phthalates in the body were associated with an increased risk of early labor and premature birth.  In fact, the data revealed a striking correlation: mothers in the top 10% of phthalate levels had a 50% higher likelihood of delivering before the 37-week mark compared to those in the lowest 10% of phthalate exposure.

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How premature births rob babies of vital developmental milestones

Babies undergo remarkable growth and development during the final weeks of pregnancy, typically occurring between 37 and 40 weeks gestation.  The baby’s organs, particularly the lungs and brain, undergo significant maturation during this crucial period.  The lungs continue to produce surfactant, a substance essential for breathing, while the brain rapidly expands and develops intricate neural connections.  Additionally, the baby accumulates body fat, vital for regulating body temperature and providing energy reserves after birth.

When babies are born prematurely, before completing this crucial developmental phase, they are often referred to as “preemies.”  Unfortunately, their early arrival means they miss out on the essential growth and preparation that occurs in the final weeks of pregnancy.  As a result, preemies may have insufficient weight for optimal health, as their bodies have not had adequate time to accumulate the necessary fat stores.  This puts them at a higher risk of facing various medical challenges throughout their lives, including respiratory issues, developmental delays, and long-term health complications.

In light of recent research, it’s becoming increasingly evident that environmental factors, such as exposure to phthalates, play a significant role in the prevalence of premature births worldwide.  According to Professor Leonardo Trasande, the author of the study, phthalates likely contribute to 5% to 10% of premature births in the majority of foreign nations, showing the global impact of the issue.

Practical ways to reduce phthalate exposure during pregnancy

Thankfully, there are practical steps you can take to minimize exposure to plastic chemicals before childbirth.

  1. Reduce the use of plastic products:  Avoid microwaving food in plastic containers and refrain from putting them in dishwashers, as this can lead to the release of phthalates into your food.
  2. Choose unwrapped organic food options:  Steer clear of packaged foods wrapped in plastic, such as frozen meals and snacks.  Opt for unwrapped organic options whenever possible to reduce your exposure.
  3. Be mindful of personal care products:  Limit or eliminate cosmetics, hair care products, and skincare lotions containing phthalates.  Checking labels and opting for phthalate-free alternatives can benefit both you and your unborn child.
  4. Stay vigilant:  Pregnancy demands extra vigilance, so be on the lookout for other toxic chemicals in your environment.  Phthalates are just the tip of the iceberg.

By implementing these practical tips, you can take proactive steps to minimize exposure to phthalates and promote a healthier pregnancy journey for you and your baby.

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