Patients often ask – do I really need to take a prenatal? Having taken a prescription prenatal full of parabens, dyes, and synthetic excuses for vitamins in my first pregnancy, I have become fairly discriminating about my recommendations. The truth is, that even with an impeccable, grown-in-the-backyard organic diet, we are exposed, without consent, to myriad toxicants and environmental industrial chemicals daily.
Detoxifying these chemicals is a nutrient-dependent process, dramatically drawing on our available reserves of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids.
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this December, researchers demonstrated that B vitamins may help women get pregnant and stay pregnant despite exposure to the endocrine-disrupting mosquito-killer, DDT. Despite being banned in 1972, it is still an active contaminant of soil in this country.
Previous work by this research group demonstrated that DDT can increase the risk of early miscarriage, but their current study followed 291 Chinese women’s daily urine for early conceptions, DDT, and B vitamin levels. They determined that:
- Elevated DDT levels with sufficient B vitamins resulted in a 42% increased risk of miscarriage than those with low DDT levels.
- Elevated DDT levels with B vitamin deficiencies resulted in double that likelihood of early miscarriage as well as double the time to conceive.
They established that B12 and folate levels were the most significant. This study did not control for genetic variants such as MTHFR which affect the bioavailability of synthetic folic acid and food folate, nor did they look at the role of stress hormones such as cortisol which may have a bidrectional effect on toxicant vulnerability according to data such as this Vietnamese study. Nonetheless, this paper supports the importance of studying nutrition and toxicology in an individualized manner for synergistic effects. It also supports the critical importance of preconception nutrition and planning in today’s chemical soup.