On the agenda: Pregnant women warned of chemical risks

Pregnant women should be wary of the risks to foetuses from chemicals in cosmetics and food packaging, according to research published by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), which has been heavily criticised.

Pregnancy research: Heavily criticised (credit: Thinkstock)
Pregnancy research: Heavily criticised (credit: Thinkstock)

In more detail

The paper, written by Dr Michelle Bellingham and Professor Richard Sharpe, suggests there is insufficient information about chemical risks to foetuses, and recommends a ‘safety first’ attitude to tinned food, ready meals, sun screen and shower gel.

It states that pregnant women are exposed to a complex list of low-level chemicals in food and cosmetics packaging, household cleaning products and non-stick frying pans, which in pregnancy may pose minimal risk to a developing baby.

It has met with criticism from various medical and toxicology professionals that it is scaremongering.

PR strategy

The RCOG press team goes through the papers due to be published with the Scientific Advisory Committee each week to determine which research will be most newsworthy.

In the case of Bellingham and Sharpe’s paper, the information was written up into a press release and sent out to the relevant journalists under a two-day embargo. The authors were made available for interview and officers from RCOG are also earmarked to answer further inquiries.

Media coverage

The story has been covered widely by the media, running across TV and radio on the BBC, while gaining coverage in the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent and the Daily Mail on the first day of publication. 

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