Report on chemical exposure is criticised for panicking pregnant womenBMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f3695 (Published 06 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3695
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Our discipline is rich with many controversial issues and we are often asked by doctors and members for guidance in areas where the science is unclear. In response, we produce Scientific Impact Papers (SIP) aimed at clinicians to help inform their practice.
Over the years, we have produced advice on folic acid supplementation, alcohol consumption in pregnancy and air travel during pregnancy. Often our papers, on first appearance, have caused upset and disagreement. However we rigorously consult scientific experts, medical professionals and our network of lay representatives. Our latest SIP examined chemical exposures in pregnancy, where human data are scant, but experimental studies show growing evidence of possible harm.
Our objectives were to review the existing scientific literature, provide evaluation of the risks associated with a range of environmental exposures and provide recommendations to minimise any potential adverse effects.
For this, we have been accused of scaremongering when our main intention was to inform and empower. We must point out that our advice is consistent with that in other countries. For example, the European Commission in 2011 http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2011:026:0011... restricted polycarbonate plastics in baby bottles, following safeguarding measures undertaken by Denmark and France to ban temporarily the manufacture and sale of Bisphenol A (BPA) in baby products. Similarly, the FDA http://www.fda.gov/newsevents/publichealthfocus/ucm064437.htm#current in the US support the reduction of infant exposure to BPA.
Women and their carers should be as well informed as possible, which will often mean trying to present an accurate and balanced account where uncertainty exists. The scientific community and public are accustomed to confronting contentious issues and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists will continue to be an advocate for Women’s Health across the life course.
Dr Tony Falconer, President, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG)
Professor Scott Nelson, Chair of the RCOG Scientific Advisory Committee
Professor Richard Anderson, Past Chair, RCOG Scientific Advisory Committee
Competing interests: No competing interests