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Toxic chemicals in unborn and newborns

Babies are being exposed to a cocktail of chemicals in the womb that can cause cancer later in life.

Tests were taken on blood taken from the umbilical cords of about 30 new born babies and from more than 40 new mothers, and were analysed for chemicals ranging from artificial musks used in cosmetics and cleaning products, to flame retardants and chemicals used to make plastics and coatings.

Most of these chemicals are found in everyday products like cleaning fluids and sprays, tin can linings, perfumes, cosmetics and even baby bottles. Others include banned pesticides such as DDT that have lingered in the environment for decades. Every single sample of mother or baby blood tested positive for at least 5 out of the 35 chemicals tested for. Many of these toxic chemicals are suggested to be linked to health problems ranging from birth defects and abnormalities to certain types of cancer.

The report, "A Present for Life: Hazardous Chemicals in Cord Blood", from the WWF-UK and Greenpeace, calls for urgent action to be taken to control the production and sale of those chemicals that may damage the health of babies and adults alike.

Helen Perivier, toxics campaigner for Greenpeace International said:

"Babies feeding through the umbilical cord are exposed to toxic chemicals from products like vinyl plastics, cleaning products, electronics, cosmetics and perfumes.

"It is shocking that such chemicals are in the human body at any stage of our life, let alone at the very start, when the child is most vulnerable. Governments need to act and require industries to substitute these contaminating chemicals with safer alternatives."

It is advisable that expectant mothers limit their use of and contact with cosmetics, sprays, and cleaning fluids.

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