Pregnant? A Natural Mattress Matters
Flame retardants in sofas, mattresses and other household items have already been linked to multiple health risks—for cancer, infertility, obesity, and developmental brain disorders such as ADHD and autism.
A new study suggests that women with the highest levels of these chemicals in their bodies during pregnancy have children with lower IQs. By age five, the IQ loss begins to show up in testing.
How much lower? Just five points. But here’s the big picture. At the low end, a five-point loss in IQ means that 57% more children would fall into the category of mentally disabled, the researchers say. And at the high end, it means there’d be a corresponding decrease in the number of “gifted” children.
The study also showed that the children of the most-exposed mothers were more hyperactive than other children their age.
There are many reasons to minimize your exposure to toxic household chemicals—and many ways to do so. You can reduce your use of toxic cleaners, high-VOC paints, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals. You can eat more whole and organic foods.
When it comes to flame retardants, though--these chemicals are everywhere, including in foam-filled furniture, car seats, drapes, carpets, and your new TV. In most mattresses, many pounds of chemicals including flame retardants are mixed together to create a foam or gel. And more are used to “finish” the synthetic and non-organic fabrics that encase the foam. A mattress may look and feel luxurious, but that doesn’t mean you’re sleeping on a pure white cloud.
How to reduce this added risk? Job One is to minimize house dust, where these compounds collect. Next, consider the total amount of time you and your children are in close contact with the household items most likely to contain flame retardants.
Your Safety Zone
Your beds—where you spend a third of your time (and where infants spend up to 18 hours a day)—can be your safety zones. Choose organic mattresses and bedding made of trustworthy materials, such as organic cotton, organic wool, and natural latex.
With growing scientific awareness and consumer demand, eventually more manufacturers will commit to creating products from safe, healthful materials. In the meantime, you can take real steps to reduce your exposure, especially while you sleep—and especially while you’re pregnant. It’s the smart thing to do—for you and your babies.