April 26 2012

Where Is the Study on the Health Impact of Perpetually Terrifying the Pregnant?

Carrie L. Lukas

I’ve had four children during the last seven years and have seen health advice for the pregnant come and go.  During my first pregnancy, tuna fish was off-limits.  It wasn’t a complete ban like smoking, alcohol, or raw fish, but tuna was considered something that could only be consumed in limited amounts.  Anxious moms-to-be like me figured better safe than sorry and took the guidance as a reason to avoid tuna entirely. 

By my second pregnancy I learned that the tuna fish ban was not only unnecessary, but was actually harmful. While I had been trying to protect my unborn daughter from miniscule amounts of mercury (which I now gather has never actually harmed any normal person one or any fetus), I was depriving her of brain-enhancing nutrients. 

Sorry about that Molly, we will never know how bright you might have been….

I’m now a seasoned mom and run the advice doled out to the pregnant through the lens of common sense.  But it still bothers me when I read or hear of the latest round of warnings being pushed on pregnant women or young moms.  They almost all are presented as though women are failing their children by engaging in everyday human activity, and create needless worry. 

The latest example is a headline coming out of Italy warning that Splenda may harm unborn babies.  Yet as Reason’s Trevor Buttersworth details, when you look at how this study was conducted it has no relationship with reality. 

The Italian Ramazzini Institute, which is promoting this latest warning about Splenda, has in the past leveled similar charges against aspartame, which turned out to be bogus.  The FDA went so far as to officially denounce that study for its poor design.  Yet that hasn’t made the media any less willing to report the next round of alarmist findings promoted by the Italian Institute.

Here is a shocker:  Injecting lab rats with just about any chemical is bad for their health.  Pregnant women take note:  You also shouldn’t inject things into your stomachs.  And, as common sense might tell you, limiting your diet to just one substance—whether that’s drinking gallons of diet soda or eating tables full of broccoli—probably isn’t the best idea. 

Pregnant women who are paying attention to the health advice offered up by so-called experts are almost certainly already doing what they should:  Doing their best to live a healthy life style.  Yet I bet they’d be better off—and their offspring would too—if they ignored the latest headlines and alarmist studies and just trusted their own instincts.

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