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News and Comment

RCOG report on chemical exposures during pregnancy

5 June 2013

Our reaction to the report

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists released a Scientific Impact Paper on Chemical exposures during pregnancy: Dealing with potential, but unproven, risks to child health on Wednesday 5th June 2013. It advises mothers-to-be that “the best approach for pregnant women is a ‘safety first’ approach, which is to assume there is risk present even when it may be minimal or eventually unfounded” and advises women to ask their doctors if they want to know more. We think this is a missed opportunity to set out the ways pregnant women can cut thorough the confusing debates about chemicals and pregnancy.

Tracey Brown said: “Pregnancy is a time when people spend a lot of time and money trying to work out which advice to follow, and which products to buy or avoid. The simple question parents want answered during pregnancy is: ‘Should we be worried?’

What we need is help in navigating these debates about chemicals and pregnancy. Disappointingly, the RCOG report has ducked this.

As the report itself shows, there are many unfounded rumours about links between particular substances and pregnancy outcomes. By contrast, we have plenty of evidence that stress is a major risk factor in pregnancy. Researchers and professional bodies should not be adding to it.”

Radio coverage

BBC radio 4 Today programme Tracey Brown discusses report at 7.13 am and toxicologist Professor Alastair Hay & co-author of report Dr Michelle Bellingham discuss risks of chemicals to pregnant women at 7.51 am.

BBC World Service Newsday Tracey Brown criticises RCOG report on pregnancy advice (at 6.38am).

BBC Radio Berkshire Tracey Brown explains why the RCOG report is far from a helpful piece of advice for pregnant women (at 7.49am).

Tabitha Innocent talks to Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5 Live about the confusion that the RCOG report could cause (at 10.36am)

News coverage

BBC News Pregnancy safety advice prompts criticism

ITV news Pregnancy safety advice row

Sky News Pregnant Women Warned Of Chemical Exposure

Guardian Advice to pregnant women to avoid chemicals is criticised as confusing

Guardian New advice to pregnant women is unhelpful and confusing, say critics

Times Row over ‘avoid shower gel’ advice to pregnant women

Independent Food packaging and furniture: What to avoid when you're expecting

Daily Mail A mum-to-be? Don't paint the nursery and avoid non-stick frying pans: Pregnant ...

Telegraph Expectant mothers told not to paint the nursery or use non-stick frying pans

Irish Independent Pregnant woman worned about chemicals in common household products

BBC News blog by Fergus Walsh Chemicals: a worry for pregnant women?

Baby Expert Pregnant women advised to use common sense in chemicals scare 

Guardian blog Pregnant women have enough worries without adding suncreen to the list

Nursing Times Row over RCOG advice to avoid plastic food packaging and cosmetics while pregnant

Channel 4 News Pregnancy advice on chemicals 'alarmist' and 'unrealistic'

NHS Choices Controversial advice on chemicals in pregnancy

Prestwich and Whitefield Guide Chemicals warning to pregnant women

Guardian blog Does the Royal College pregnancy report stand up?

The Journal Pregnant women ‘should avoid ready meals, shower gel and new cars’

Science Media Centre pregnancy advice: trying to be helpful

Observer Pregnant women deserve more than this infantile advice

Guardian Pregnancy advice from royal college not common sense, says health chief

TopNews United States Experts criticize RCOG report

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