Protecting Your Baby from Dioxins

Reduce Dioxin Exposure Throughout Motherhood

Pregnant mother against windowThere’s a mile long list on what not to do while you’re pregnant, making it somewhat challenging to do or eat anything. Am I right? Avoiding dioxins while pregnant is one of the things that should be top of mind. 

A new study was recently released in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal (published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) bring the issue of dioxin and pregnancy to the forefront once again. In the study, titled Perinatal Exposure To Low Doses Of Dioxin Can Permanently Impair Human Semen Quality, the authors discuss the effects of dioxin exposure for sperm quality and reproductive hormones. Their research shows that breastfeeding mothers with even a median dioxin concentration in their bodies had sons with lower sperm counts, lower sperm motility, and lower total motile count than those mothers with lower dioxin levels or those who formula-fed their sons. Their conclusion is that in utero and lactational exposure of boys to even low levels of dioxin can permanently reduce sperm quality.

If you think that’s worrisome, consider that this is one of numerous studies that have demonstrated serious health issues when pregnant women and infants are exposed to dioxins:

  • Women exposed to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other dioxin-related compounds were more likely to suffer spontaneous abortions and stillbirths.[1]
  • Some women may have trouble breastfeeding because of dioxin exposure (the toxin stunts the growth of rapidly-changing breast tissue).[2]
  • Female babies exposed to dioxin in the womb may have difficulty getting pregnant.[3]
  • Exposure to dioxins may increase the time it takes for a woman to conceive.[4]


How to protect yourself and your baby from dioxin exposure

The bad news is that virtually all humans are exposed to dioxins every single day – we all have at least a low level of dioxins in our bodies. And unfortunately, time is not our friend when it comes to dioxins since it will linger in our bodies in fat deposits for years after it is absorbed.

Dioxins can enter our bodies in a number of ways. They pass through damaged skin (cuts, scraps, blisters) with ease, you can consume them when you eat or drink, they can be breathed in (dioxins attach themselves to dust particles), and so on.

But there is some good news in all of this, and that is that there are things you can do to reduce how often you and your family come into contact with dioxins:

  • Eliminate chlorine bleach from your eco-friendly cleaning and laundry routines (bleach, when it combines with organic compounds, can create dioxins).
  • Purchase products such as clothing and diapers (made of cotton), toilet paper and paper towels, feminine care products, and paper that are whitened without chlorine bleach.
  • Perhaps most importantly, you should reduce your consumption of products made with PVC (#3) plastic, which is polyvinylchloride (PVC), a plastic responsible for releasing dioxins during production, during use, and after disposal. You’ll find PVCs in numerous products, such as baby dishes, bedding bags, pharmaceutical blister packs, faux leather products (shoes, handbags, etc), plastic food wrap, children’s toys, vinyl products like windows, flooring and siding for your home, and insulated wiring.
  • When eating fish and meat, be sure to remove the skin and fat as dioxins concentrate in these parts of the animal. Better yet, give up meat and seafood by going vegetarian!
  • Wash fruits and vegetables since dioxins can hang out on produce from pesticides.
  • Never burn PVC plastics of any kind; recycle plastics instead when possible.
  • Avoid using pesticides on your garden or landscape as these can be contaminated with dioxins.

It’ll take a long time to clean the planet of dioxins given the vast number of sources for this toxin, but we might as well start at home.



1  Long-Term Effects of Polychlorinated Biphenyls and Dioxins on Pregnancy Outcomes in Women Affected by the Yusho Incident. (2008, February 6). Retrieved January 29, 2011, from Environmnetal Health Perspectives:

2  Dioxins in Food Chain Linked to Breastfeeding Ills. (2009, June 9). Retrieved January 29, 2011, from University of Rochester Medical Center:

3  One dioxin exposure in the womb affects female fertility in mice for generations. . (2010, December 1). Retrieved January 29, 2011, from Environmental Health News:

4  Serum Dioxin Concentrations and Time to Pregnancy. (2010, March). Retrieved January 29, 2011, from Journal of Epidemiology:

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