What Type of Substances Can Cause Complications in Pregnancy?

People don’t seem to have babies as often as they did in the past. To a certain degree, that is. While the world’s population is consistently growing, many countries don’t have declining birth rates. For example, there has been a notable decrease in births in strong economic countries like Japan and the United States. 

While there have been some indicators the number of babies born a day worldwide has been increasing, it’s still lower than it has been. There are numerous factors in why this could be the case. 

Complications in Pregnancy

One potential reason is that people aren’t aware of how harmful some substances they ingest affect their ability to reproduce. There are obvious bad substances like drugs, alcohol, and mercury, but some people don’t necessarily think about them, like certain cosmetics, cleaning supplies, and paint. 

Let’s dive into some of these substances and what complications they can cause during pregnancy.

Alcohol and drugs

Alcohol is one of the most common substances that can cause problems during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol can lead to numerous issues for the developing baby, including low birth weight, premature birth, and birth defects. Pregnant women must avoid drinking alcohol altogether.

Tobacco use is also linked to pregnancy complications, including low birth weight, premature birth, and stillbirth. Quitting smoking before becoming pregnant is one of the best ways to reduce the risks associated with tobacco use during pregnancy.

Certain illicit drugs, such as methamphetamine, can cause severe pregnancy complications. These drugs can lead to premature labour, low birth weight, and birth defects. Pregnant women should avoid using any illicit drugs.


Certain cosmetics can also be harmful to pregnant women. For example, retinoids, which are found in anti-ageing creams, can cause birth defects. Pregnant women should avoid using products that contain retinoids.

Other cosmetics, such as hair dyes and nail polish, may not harm the developing baby, but they can still cause problems for the pregnant woman. These products can contain chemicals linked to pregnancy complications, such as premature labour and low birth weight. Pregnant women should consult their healthcare providers if they are unsure which cosmetics are safe. 

Cleaning supplies

Most cleaning supplies aren’t harmful to pregnant women. However, some cleaning supplies, such as bleach and ammonia, can harm pregnant women. 

These products can cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, and eye damage. Pregnant women should avoid using these products or take precautions, such as wearing gloves and a mask.


Another common substance women are told not to ingest is mercury

Mercury can be found in some types of fish, such as swordfish and sharks, and certain types of seafood, such as oysters and clams. Pregnant women should avoid eating these types of fish and seafood due to the risk of mercury poisoning.

Mercury exposure can also occur from other sources, such as dental amalgams and vaccines. Pregnant women should talk to their healthcare providers about the risks and benefits of dental amalgams and vaccines before deciding whether or not to have them.


Paint is another substance where, for the most part, it shouldn’t be too harmful, but there are exceptions. For example, paints containing lead can be dangerous. 

Even inhaling paint fumes with lead traces can also harm pregnant women. These fumes can cause respiratory problems and skin irritation. Pregnant women should avoid using paint with lead and seek alternatives like water-based paint. 


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It can be scary when you are trying to get pregnant or are already pregnant because you don’t quite know how things will turn out. Even the simplest mistakes can be harmful.

Regardless, the best thing you can do is be informed about the substances that can cause pregnancy complications and take steps to avoid them. This will help ensure a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

Having a baby can be a great experience, and its crucial society continues to work toward making it safe for both the mother and child.

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