Hidden Exposures, Reproduction and Pregnancy - PDF - PDF by wwr69367


									           Hidden Exposures,Reproduction and the Environment: Introduction

                                  HIDDEN EXPOSURES,                          REPRODUCTION and PREGNANCY

Why these Fact Sheets?
                        Many people, including pregnant women,         Most babies are born healthy, but it is important to
                        come into contact with things in their         improve the chances of that happening. Be aware of
                        day-to-day environment that may affect         things around you, as some substances can create
                        their health and their ability to have a       immediate or long-term health effects. It can be
                        healthy child. Some products that can          difficult to find easy-to-understand information
           affect pregnancy, such as maternal cigarette smoke,         about possible reproductive toxins, and simple sug-
           second hand smoke, alcohol and some medications             gestions on what can be done. These fact sheets are
           taken during pregnancy, are familiar and most people        designed to fill this need. They present information
           take steps to reduce their exposure. There is not as much   on topics which pregnant women in prenatal classes
           awareness of the possible effects of other things found     identified as concerns to them. They also offer tips
           in the day-to-day environment.                              on reducing possible hidden exposures.
We are the Environment, The Environment is Us:
                                        Our bodies are not separate
                                                                While a high consumption lifestyle might seem to
                                        from the environment around
                                                                be a benefit to many, there are also costs to our
                                        us. We breathe air, drink
                                                                health, the health of future generations and the
                                        water and eat food and the
                                                                environment. Many people do not realize how many
                                        external becomes internal.
                                                                manufactured chemicals, disposable plastics and
                                                                other substances are around us every day. Because
           We live in an ever more industrialized society. The we do not see these things or do not recognize that
           fast-paced consumer-based western lifestyle requires some of them may be toxic we may not be aware
           large amounts of chemicals and other manufactured that we are being exposed to substances that may
           substances. As we use more electricity, we are also affect our health.
           surrounded by electromagnetic fields.

What are Hidden Exposures?
           People come into contact with many things in the            cleaned with harsh chemicals). These are hidden
           environment which they are unaware of. Some of              exposures because you are unaware that you came
           these things may have an effect on their health. You        in contact with something that may affect you.
           can be exposed to them when you breathe (eg: air            Exposure to certain substances can affect the
           with solvents), eat (eg: food with pesticides), drink       health of men and women, and exposures to things
           (eg: water from lead pipes) and touch (eg: surfaces         that affect reproduction can influence the ability to
                                                                       get pregnant and have a healthy baby.
How are you Exposed?
           Hidden exposures may happen by:                             People can come into contact with possible toxics
                                                                       in their day-to-day environment at home, at
                                                                       work…in fact, anywhere. What people are exposed
                                                                       to, at what point in their lives, how much, and for
                                                                       how long, can have an effect on their health.
             Eating or Drinking     Breathing          Touching

Better Safe Than Sorry! The Precautionary Principle:
           Some scientists suggest that if an activity could           individuals should take a cautionary approach to all
           threaten human health or the environment, precaution        such activities. Individuals can play a part by reducing
           should be taken even before there is complete scientific    the amounts of hazards they use/produce, being
           proof that the activity is harmful. The Precautionary       aware of their environment and minimizing their
           Principle suggests that corporations, government            exposure. In preparing these fact sheets we have
           bodies, organizations, communities, scientists and          taken a precautionary approach.

Reproduction, Pregnancy and Human Bodies:
            Human bodies have an internal as well as an exter-         activities men and women are involved in also
            nal environment. The environment within men’s              affects what they are exposed to.
            and women’s bodies affects their ability to reproduce
            and will affect the next generation. Women and men         Women are the ones who get pregnant and have babies.
            have different hormonal environments, different            Women’s bodies are the first environment for the devel-
            amounts of body fat and store and metabolize some          oping fetus. Something that may not seem to affect
            toxins and pollutants differently. The varying types of    a pregnant woman can still affect a developing fetus.

The Reproductive Cycle:
           Women and men are both a part of the reproductive embryo, then a fetus. The fetus develops, is born as
           process but play different roles.                 a baby, grows up into a child who becomes an adult
                                                             with eggs that were made in the woman when she
           The reproductive cycle: eggs and sperm come was a fetus or sperm that are formed in the man on
           together to form a zygote which develops into an an ongoing basis. And the cycle goes on.
                                  HIDDEN EXPOSURES,                          REPRODUCTION and PREGNANCY

Hidden Exposures During The Reproductive Cycle:
                          There are many points at which hidden defects; functional abnormalities; or changed or
                          exposures may affect the reproductive delayed fetal growth.
                                                                   Newborns may be affected by hazards they were
                          Before conception exposure to toxics exposed to in the womb, by contaminants in breast
           may disturb the menstrual cycle; male or female sex- milk or infant formula, and by their immediate envi-
           ual function; affect interest in sex; reduce fertility; ronment.
           or damage male or female germ cells.
                                                                   There may be long-term effects on the children who
           At conception exposure to reproductive toxins may are exposed to reproductive hazards in the womb.
           make conception more difficult.                         As well, children may be exposed in their daily envi-
           During pregnancy, exposure to toxic substances may                                        Source: Kaye, 1986.
           cause spontaneous abortions or miscarriages; birth

Toxics Can Accumulate and May Interact With Each Other:
           When we are exposed to high doses of certain tox-           During pregnancy toxins in the body may leave the area
           ics or to repeated low doses, our bodies cannot             they are stored in, and may cross the placenta and
           always eliminate them totally and they can build            affect the fetus. Substances that affect hormones are
           up in fatty tissue, organs or bone. In the body,            of concern, because exposure to very little during
           toxic substances can also interact with each other          critical development stages or "windows" may have
           and may have unexpected effects.                            negative effects on the developing fetus.

Endocrine Disruption:
           Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that can affect          immune system, nervous system and the reproductive
           the functioning of hormones which are part of the           system. Certain toxics that affect reproduction may
           endocrine system. They can also affect the                  have endocrine disrupting effects.

Useful Definitions Relating to Reproductive Health Hazards:
           Birth Defect: Any structural, functional or biochem-        Reproductive Health Hazards: broadly defined as
           ical abnormality (genetically determined or induced         chemical, physical or biological agents that cause
           /acquired during pregnacy) not due to injuries suf-         reproductive impairment or adverse developmental
           fered during birth.                                         effects.

           Exposure: The length of time, dose of chemical, bio-        Toxin: A chemical, physical or biological agent that
           logical or physical agent to which an animal or person      interferes with the function of a cell, tissue, organ or
           is subjected.                                               organism.
                                                                                          Source: Barrett, V. and J. Atkins. 1995.

What Can You Do?
                       It’s better to be safe than sorry! Our recommendations throughout these fact sheets are based
                       on the precautionary principle. While there are specific recommendations for each topic, overall
                       they can be summarized as followed:
                       • Reduce your personal use of and exposure to substances that may be toxic.
                       • Always be aware of your day-to-day environment and minimize your exposure.
                       • Get active in your community with groups working to create a safe and healthy environment.

Where To Go For More Information On Health and The Environment:
             • Toronto Health Connection - 416- 338-7600               • Hospital for Sick Children Motherisk Program -
             • South Riverdale Community Health Centre -                 416-813-6780 – www.motherisk.org
               416-461-1925                                            • Health Canada – www.hc-sc.gc.ca
             • Canadian Association of Physicians for the              • Toronto Environmental Alliance – 416-596-0660
               Environment – www.cape.ca                                 www.torontoenvironment.org
             • Canadian Environmental Law Association – 416-960-2284   • Pollution Probe – 416-926-1907 or
               www.cela.ca                                               613-237-3485 www.pollutionprobe.org
             • Toronto Public Health - Healthy People, Healthy         • Sunnybrook & Women’s College Health Sciences
               Environment - www.city.toronto.on.ca/health/hphe          Centre, Environmental Health Clinic – 416-351-3764

                                                 Funded by:                Produced by:                 in collaboration with:

                                                                                                              December 2001

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