Home > Pregnancy: Chemicals, Cosmetics, and Radiation
Take care to protect your
developing fetus from dangerous substances during your pregnancy:
Nail polish, artificial nails, hair dyes, and hair
permanents all contain strong chemicals. There is not very much research about
the use of these products during pregnancy. It is always a good idea to reduce
your exposure to these chemicals and be sure the room is well-ventilated. For
more information about the effects that chemicals can have on a fetus, see the
Organization of Teratology Information Services website at
A single diagnostic X-ray , such as a dental X-ray,
does not harm your fetus.3 But it's still a good idea
to avoid unnecessary X-rays. If an X-ray is necessary, be sure to tell the
technician that you are pregnant. Many X-rays can be delayed until after
pregnancy. If X-rays are needed, they can be done with a lead apron
that shields your belly.
If you travel by plane frequently on
business or as an airline pilot, flight attendant, air marshal, or courier, it
is possible for you to exceed the cosmic radiation limit considered safe during
pregnancy (1 millisievert, or mSv). Although the occasional flight doesn't pose
a risk, frequent low-altitude domestic flights or several high-altitude
international flights may increase your radiation exposure.4
radiation from electrical appliances such as televisions, computers, or
electric blankets (electromagnetic radiation) has not been shown to cause birth
defects. Electric blankets or water bed heaters can be used to warm the bed,
but it is a good idea to turn them off when you get into bed so that you don't
Shannon MW (2007). Lead. In MW Shannon et al., eds.,
Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed., pp. 1129–1146. Philadelphia: Saunders
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2004). What you
need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish: 2004 EPA and FDA advice for
women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant, nursing mothers, young
children. Available online:
Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). General considerations
and maternal evaluation. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 912–925. New York: McGraw-Hill.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2009). Air travel during pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 443. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 114(4): 954–955.
July 23, 2012
Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
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