Beverages and food consumed regularly by pregnant women contain toxins believed to pose potential risks to developing fetuses, finds a new study.
Researchers at the University of California, Riverside suggest that health care providers must do more to counsel their patients about the dangers of hidden toxins in the food supply.
A team of psychologists from UC Riverside and UC San Diego found that the diets of pregnant Hispanic women included tuna, salmon, canned foods, tap water, caffeine, alcohol and over-the-counter medications that contain substances known to cause birth defects.
The study is unique in that it highlights the unseen dangers of consuming toxins in food and beverages that are not typically thought of as unhealthy for a fetus, Sarah Santiago, a Ph.D. student in psychology at UCR, said.
It also contributes to the body of literature aimed at assessing dietary habits of both Hispanic and non-Hispanic pregnant women.
"Unlike alcohol and nicotine, which carry a certain stigma along with surgeon general warnings on the packaging, tuna, canned foods, caffeine, and a handful of other foods and beverages with associated developmental effects are not typically thought of as unsafe," Santiago said.
"Hopefully, this study will encourage health care providers to keep pregnant women well informed as to the possible dangers of unhealthy consumption habits," she said.
The study is published in the Nutrition Journal.