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Foods, exposures, and lifestyle risk factors in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

Foods, exposures, and lifestyle risk factors in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Foods, exposures, and lifestyle risk factors in pregnancy and breastfeeding

Sir Peter Gluckman

, Mark Hanson

, Chong Yap Seng

, and Anne Bardsley

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date: 30 July 2021

Advice for pregnant women on food avoidance, dangerous exposures, and inappropriate behaviours abounds on the internet and through various information sources. This chapter reviews the evidence base for such advice and clarifies issues where common advice is not supported by credible data. Foods containing potential teratogens, mutagens, or toxicants that need consideration include liver (high vitamin A), some herbal teas, contaminated grains, predatory fish, caffeine-containing foods, and various sources of foodborne infections. Exposure to environmental toxicants such as lead, pesticides, herbicides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, bisphenol-A, and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals should be avoided, as should alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. Restrictive diets and unusual dietary cravings (pica) need to be properly managed. Evidence for harm from personal care products is generally weak, but pregnant women may choose to avoid some unnecessary exposures.

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