"When Penelope Jagessar Chaffer became pregnant, her obstetrician warned her to avoid alcohol, cigarettes and mercury-laden tuna. Dangers posed to her unborn child by industrial chemicals such as flame retardants, pesticides and plastics, however, never came up.
"No one told me anything about any of this stuff," said Jagessar Chaffer, 44, a documentary filmmaker and children's environmental health advocate. She said it was the same story with all of her pregnancies. "I wasn't being empowered."
As Jagessar Chaffer taught herself while carrying her first child, dozens of environmental chemicals can course through a pregnant woman's body, cross the umbilical cord and wreck havoc on a developing fetus. Birth defects, IQ losses and childhood cancers are just some of the potential risks scientists have now tied to even low levels of exposure."