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September 2022

5 Surprising Things That Can Affect Your Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, you probably already know about the negative effects that alcohol, tobacco, and unhealthy eating can have for you and your growing baby.

But other things in your everyday life can affect your pregnancy, too. Here are 5 to keep in mind:

  1. Dental care. Don’t skip it. Teeth cleanings, dental exams, and routine dental work under local anesthesia is safe during pregnancy. In fact, keeping your teeth and gums healthy may reduce the amount of cavity-causing bacteria you pass along to your baby after birth.  

  2. Pets. Know when to be cautious. Be careful with some pets and pet-care chores. For instance, have someone else clean the cat’s litter box—feline feces may carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infections. Steer clear of pet mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs. Their droppings, saliva, and bedding can transmit lymphocytic choriomeningitis, or LCMV, a virus that can cause miscarriage. And don’t keep reptiles or amphibians in your home during pregnancy or if you have kids younger than age 5—these pets can carry salmonella.

  3. Secondhand and thirdhand smoke. Avoid it. Breathing smoke from other people’s tobacco products could increase the risk for low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, and learning problems for babies. It can also raise odds for miscarriage. Even exposure to smoke residue left behind on furniture, rugs, and walls can cause problems for your baby, such as interfering with healthy lung development.

  4. Canned goods, some plastics. Cut back if you can. Exposure to the chemical bisphenol A during pregnancy could affect your infant’s nervous system and behavioral development. Eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables instead of canned food; don’t microwave food or drinks in polycarbonate containers (hard, clear plastic—usually with a recycling code “7” on the bottom); and replace any older, scratched, or clouded polycarbonate plastic containers.

  5. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Say yes to tests, treatments. Untreated STIs can cause serious complications, including premature birth and low birth weight. Some, like the herpes simplex and hepatitis B viruses, can be passed along to your baby. All pregnant women should be screened for STIs like syphilis, hepatitis B, and HIV. Your healthcare provider may recommend tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis C if you are at high risk—for example, if you or your partner has multiple sexual partners or your partner has an STI.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2022
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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