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Creatine may not have a pronounced effect on the health of the mother but fetal development may be slowed by the excessive consumption of this protein.
Elderberry currently does not pose a significant risk to the pregnant woman. However, some sources suggest avoiding it because it may have the potential to cause miscarriage.
Fennel seeds have the ability to increase blood coagulation. In pregnancy, coagulation is already increased physiologically; excessive consumption of fennel may increase the risk of thrombosis and embolism.
Tetracycline is an antibiotic that has teratogenic properties. It is linked to disorders of the bone in the fetus and yellowing of teeth.
Spironolactone is a commonly prescribed diuretic agent for hypertensive patients. The use of this drug in pregnancy may increase the risk of decreased androgen effects in the male infant (such as gynecomastia). It should, therefore, be avoided.
5-FU is a chemotherapeutic and immunosuppressive agent that pregnant women should strictly avoid. It may cause decreased immunity in the infant and the mother, increasing the risk of infections. It may also cause fetal cardiac defects and cleft palate.
Tazarotene is a vitamin A preparation that has been linked to an increased risk of serious birth defects. Women who are prescribed this drug are also prescribed at least two contraceptives to avoid conceiving.
Clindamycin is an antibiotic that is used topically for treating acne. Although it is generally safe, it may be linked to fetal birth defects.
Azelaic acid is a safe medication to use in pregnancy. However it may increase skin sensitivity and irritation.
Amoxicillin is generally safe to consume in pregnancy and is an FDA category B drug. However, there are rare adverse effects of this antibiotic that may put the pregnancy at risk such as an allergic reaction.
Mace is probably an unsafe ingredient to consume when pregnant. Although little evidence backs this up, there is still a chance of miscarriages or birth defects with an excess of Mace usage.
Mugwort is a likely abortifacient and can increase the risk of miscarriage or a preterm birth.
Although rich in nutrients, nutmeg may be toxic for pregnant women if taken in large doses. Nutmeg has been associated with a high risk of birth defects as well as miscarriage. It may also prove to be fatal.
This uncommon herb should preferably be avoided in pregnancy. Because of its unknown mechanism of action, it’s best to steer clear from this herb while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Passion flower may cause the uterus to contract prematurely and result in an elevated risk of abortion or preterm birth. Therefore, this herb should be avoided when pregnant.
Pennyroyal has an unclear adverse effect profile but it probable that it may cause the uterus to contract and increase the risk of a preterm birth or a miscarriage.
Pleurisy root is not a safe herb to take in pregnancy because even at minimal doses, this herb can cause premature labor or a miscarriage. It is also deemed unsafe during lactation.
Because Red Clover acts like an estrogen, it has the potential to cause hormonal imbalances in pregnancy. That is why it is deemed likely unsafe.
Chamomile is often used in teas and has natural anti-oxidant properties. However, when consumed in pregnancy, this herbal tea ingredient has been shown to induce premature contractions of the uterus.
Rose hibiscus has been associated with hormonal imbalances particularly in the first trimester of pregnancy. It also has ‘emmenagogue’ effects that can increased blood flow to the kidneys, causing increased contractions and an early labor.
Sage may contain the chemical thujone that has been linked to inducing uterine contractions and increasing the risk of a preterm birth.
Senna is a stimulant laxative that can cause stomach upset and the diarrhea. In pregnancy, this stimulant laxative may also induce premature contractions and should be strictly avoided. Generally speaking, all forms of laxatives should be discouraged in pregnancy.
Excessive consumption of turmeric may induce nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Although it may have potential benefits to the health of the pregnancy, the benefits should be weighed against the risks.
Just like turmeric, ginger root may cause an upset stomach, nausea and vomiting. Although clinically unproven, some experts believe that ginger root may increase the risk of contractions and a premature delivery.
Wild indigo is sometimes used in cosmetic products. This ingredient may cause problems for the stomach and intestine and, therefore, should be avoided in pregnancy.
Vervain may increase the risk of poor weight gain in pregnancy and inducing fetal abnormalities such as bone disorders.
Wormwood may contain thujone just like sage. This may cause uterine contractions and an early delivery.
Little evidence backs up the risk profile of yarrow, but it is generally believed to disrupt hormone levels and cause problems in maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Yellow dock is a potential emetic agent that may also cause a laxative effect. Pregnant and breastfeeding moms should avoid the use of this ingredient by mouth.
Yohimbe is linked to an elevated risk of heart disease and seizures. In pregnancy, yohimbe may cause even worse adverse effects. Yohimbe supplements should, therefore, be strictly avoided.
Although celery is rich in a number of nutrients that can help your pregnancy, too much of it can also increase the risk of endocrine dysfunction, particularly thyroid problems.
This herb can cause tinnitus, vertigo and dizziness (cinchonism). In pregnant women, cinchona has the additional side effect of causing blood related disorders such as hemolysis and bleeding.
Coltsfoot preparations may contain hepatotoxic chemical that might cause birth defects and liver damage. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using coltsfoot altogether if you are pregnant.
Consuming comfrey when pregnant may increase the risk of birth defects even with topical use. This is because its toxic chemicals have the ability to penetrate the skin and be absorbed in the circulation.
Although unclear, cotton root bark may increase the chances of a spontaneous abortion because of its effects to stimulate uterine contractions.
Dong quai should be strictly avoided in pregnancy because of its high risk of causing a miscarriage. It is also contraindicated in breastfeeding mothers.
Ephedra likely has adverse effect for the pregnant mother as well as the fetus, particularly pertaining to the cardiovascular system. Ephedra is currently listed as a Pregnancy Category C substance.
Ergot alkaloids are often used in the treatment of headaches but they are commonly avoided in pregnancy. Ergots have vasoconstrictive properties that can compromise the health of the placenta. However, ergot derivatives are commonly used in the treatment of certain pregnancy-related bleeding complications.
Evening primrose can have a blood-thinning effect which can increase the risk of bleeding such as postpartum hemorrhage, especially among women with pregnancy conditions like placenta previa. It can also cause bleeding in the newborn.
Fenugreek seeds may induce uterine contractions and should be avoided in the later months of pregnancy. They are also associated with gastrointestinal complaints such as nausea, diarrhea and flatulence.
Excessive consumption of ginseng can lead to glycemic imbalances and increase the risk of low blood sugar levels in women who have gestational diabetes. It can also cause hypoglycemia in the infant.
When applied topically, this substance may not pose a health risk. However, oral consumption of gotu kola may affect the developing baby and should be avoided.
Horehound is an irritant substance that can cause skin sensitivity and allergic reactions. In pregnant women, it may cause hormonal imbalances and raise the risk of a miscarriage.
Chronic use of guggul may be linked to stomach upset, headaches, belching and diarrhea. Although understudied in the pregnant population, this herb should be avoided in pregnancy.
Ipecac is only allowed when medically indicated by your doctor. Because of the few clinical studies done on this herb, it’s a good idea to avoid it altogether for healthy pregnancy outcomes.
Juniper berry may cause fertility issues when trying to conceive and may be linked to an elevated risk of a miscarriage which is why it is best to avoid this drug when pregnant or lactating.
Studies have shown that kava-kava may weaken the muscles of the uterus, causing fetal distress and an increased risk of a spontaneous abortion. Kava kava has also been linked to prolonging the effects of anesthesia.
Two active components of lemongrass, namely citral and myrcene, have been shown to cause adverse effects on pregnancy. When consumed in high doses, lemongrass may disrupt the healthy development of skeletal muscle, and increase the risk of a miscarriage.
There is extensive research around the potentially harmful effects of licorice not just in pregnancy but also in the non-pregnant state. This candy may cause increased blood pressure and an increased risk of arrythmia. This may result in a complicated pregnancy and deleterious effects on the newborn.
Lobelia has been linked to an elevated risk of stomach problems such as ulcers, inflammation and other irritative effects. Large doses of lobelia may also have a negative effect on the heart.
Although likely safe to consume in pregnancy, there still isn’t enough evidence to clear anise as a healthy ingredient. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to avoid herbs and spices when you’re pregnant.
Arnica has properties to induce uterine contractions and possibly cause premature birth or even a miscarriage.
Some women take ashwagandha to improve their chances at conceiving. Some also take it during pregnancy to strengthen the growing baby. However, large amounts of this herb can cause stomach upset and should be restricted.
Barberry can have detrimental effect on the nervous system development of the baby. It’s crucial to avoid any and all products that may contain this ingredient.
Contrary to its name, birthwort is considered unsafe in pregnancy because of its active toxic ingredient, aristolochia. Birthwort may be associated with kidney dysfunction and cause tumor development.
Black or blue cohosh should be used with caution when pregnant. Although understudied, this herb is linked to premature uterine contraction and early labor.
Bladderwrack is another herb that has been deemed unsafe for pregnant and lactating women. Bladderwrack may be associated with bleeding disorders and increase the risk of bruising and postpartum hemorrhage that can rapidly become fatal.
Blessed thistle has been thought to improve lactation but there is little science to prove this. Because of its unclear mechanism of action, it’s a good idea to avoid its use in pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Bloodroot may affect normal fetal development, especially if consumed in the early weeks of pregnancy. That is why pregnant women are advised to stay away from this herb.
Another herb that is contraindicated in pregnancy is Blue Flag. It has the potential to irritate the stomach and cause inflammation of the bowels.
Borage seed oil is considered unsafe for use in not just pregnancy but also in children and the elderly. It is likely that this herb has carcinogenic properties and can affect the liver and the lungs.
Buchu has been associated with a higher risk of miscarriages although little clinical evidence supports this. In any case, it’s best to avoid this herb in cosmetic products or otherwise.
Bugleweed has the ability to cause endocrine dysfunction which is why it is discouraged in both pregnancy and breastfeeding. Bugleweed may also affect milk quality and production.
California poppy has an unclear adverse effect profile, but it is possible that it can affect the nervous system. In a growing fetus, central nervous system development could be at risk with California poppy.
Low doses of camphor may not be harmful at all but higher than standard exposure to this substance has the potential to cause miscarriage and other fatal pregnancy-related complications.
Cascara has laxative properties and should only be used if medically indicated. Generally speaking, all types of laxatives are avoided in pregnancy because of their potential risk to cause premature labor contractions.
In the non-pregnant state, too much cassia can cause diarrhea, erectile dysfunction in men, bloating and even high blood pressure. In women, this spice has been linked to an increased risk of an abortion.
Many different types of oils including castor oil can induce labor. Although little clinical evidence supports this, it’s still best to avoid castor oil altogether in pregnancy, particularly in the later months.
There is some evidence that catnip may cause uterine contractions and result in a preterm birth or a miscarriage. Therefore, it should be avoided in pregnancy.
Celandine can be toxic if consumed in its raw plant extract form. It can also induce nausea and vomiting even at lower doses.
These two substances, just like salicylic acid are part of the beta hydroxy acids group. Along with their irritant properties on the skin, tropic and trethocanic acid may cause side effects similar to salicylic acid such as an increased risk of bleeding.
A common constituent of sunscreens, avobenzone has the ability to generate free radicals that can damage skin and participate in a number of chemical processes in the body. When pregnant, try to avoid sunscreens with avobenzone and instead choose safer alternatives like zinc oxide.
Another frequently used ingredient in sunblock is homosalate which has the potential ability to cause endocrine disturbance and affect hormone levels, something that should be avoided particularly in pregnancy.
Similar to homosalate in mechanism of action, drug class and adverse effect profile, octisalate can also cause endocrine issues and should be avoided when pregnant.
Octocrylene has been shown to cause DNA damage and accumulate mutations. This can cause adverse effects on reproductive health when you’re trying to conceive or when pregnant.
Because of its scarcely studied effects on pregnant health, this substance should generally be avoided. It may be linked to endocrine disruption.
Diethanolamine is a surprisingly common ingredient in the cosmetic industry with some very well-known side-effects. This substance has been shown to alter nervous system development of the fetus and induce cell death, therefore it should be strictly avoided in pregnancy.
Oleamide, lauramide and cocamide DEA are some other forms of diethanolamine with similar adverse effects for the developing fetus.
DHA is an important component in fake tans that may induce an allergic reaction. Beyond this, DHA poses no serious health risk to the pregnant woman or the baby because it does not get absorbed beyond the epidermis.
Quaternium-15 is a type of anti-microbial agent that is sometimes added to cosmetic products that fight acne. Because this is an animal-derived product, it may be toxic or produce an allergic response.
When consumed in a minimal amount, DMDM is a relatively safe ingredient even in pregnancy. Higher doses of DMDM may cause skin irritation and hormonal disruption among other toxic effects.
Hydantoin is a drug that must be strictly avoided in pregnancy because of its clinically proven teratogenic effects. Hydantoin and its oral derivatives have the ability to cause neural tube defects, nail dysplasia and cognitive impairment in the baby among other things.
This product in itself is considerably safe but it is discouraged for use in pregnancy because of its breakdown to formaldehyde-like metabolites. Formaldehyde can cause free radical injury that can be damaging to both the mother and the developing fetus.
Found in a number of makeup and nail polish products, this substance has been linked to an increased incidence in dermatitis and skin sensitivity.
Bronopol is a form of paraben that can result in a number of side effects to the user. Excessive exposure to this substance can cause increased weight gain among other adverse effects.
These substances stay in the epidermis and do not enter the bloodstream at low concentrations. At higher concentrations, these chemicals have the ability to depress the central nervous system and affect the respiratory system as well. Although understudied, they should be avoided when pregnant. They are common constituents in hair removal creams.
Adapalene is contraindicated in pregnancy because of its well-known teratogenic effects. Adapalene can be absorbed in the blood and disrupt healthy fetal development. Drugs that contain this active ingredient should, therefore, be strictly avoided.
Another drug that pregnant women should steer clear of is bexarotene. This is associated with a high risk of a number of various birth defects in the fetus as well as preterm birth.
Ammonium compounds are common in household cleaners. Their harsh properties make them completely unsuitable for use in pregnancy.
Angelica may not be safe when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It may cause uterine contractions, and this could threaten the pregnancy.
Beeswax, Honey, Pollen and Propolis (all from bees) are generally acceptable and safe ingredients used in cosmetic products as long as the source is organic. Royal Jelly, however, should be avoided for environmental and health concerns.
Although most colored ingredients may be a red flag when it comes to pregnancy, carmine is a notable exception. This red pigment (also called Cochineal, Cochineal Extract, Crimson Lake, or Carmine Lake, Natural Red 4 C.I. 75470) is allowed but must be clearly indicated on ingredient labels. It comes from scale insects, such as the cochineal scale, and is often found in color cosmetics.
Some ingredients pose little-to-no hazard on their own, but may be problematic when combined. While chemical reactions are hard to assess for their potential impact, it’s always a good idea to read the label and avoid products that have too many synthetic chemicals in the list.
There are many natural, organically-derived and synthetic colorants that are permissible for use in pregnancy. Natural and naturally- derived colorants are from plants, minerals, or insects (carmine). Mineral colors are often viewed as healthier or more sustainable than synthetic colors. This isn’t necessarily the case. Most “mineral” colorants are actually synthetic and can be contaminated with heavy metals (like lead, a known neurotoxin).
Natural fragrances are always the healthier option when compared to their synthetic counterparts. However, some safe synthetic fragrances do exist.
Polyethylene Glycol, or PEG, is an Ethoxylated ingredient used to attract moisture to the skin, and help keep products stable. It does not appear to pose a safety risk for most people but may elicit an allergic reaction so should be consumed cautiously.
Lead, Nickel, Cadmium, and other heavy metals are common at trace levels in both natural mineral pigments and synthetic colorants. While these tiny amounts (in the low parts per million range) pose little risk to human health, many heavy metals can build up in our bodies over time, and cosmetics are not our only exposure source. Heavy metal exposure has been linked to serious health effects in both the mother and the baby such as neurotoxicity and anemia.
This natural preservative compound looks like a Paraben. Although understudied, it may be a potential endocrine disruptor like other Parabens.
Lanolin is a safe and effective oil that comes from sheep’s oil glands. Keratin is also derived from sheep’s wool, among other animal sources, though keratin used in cosmetics appears to be from wool. Both are considered safe for most people but may elicit allergic reactions in certain individuals.
Mica is a mineral commonly used in beauty products, especially makeup, since it imparts sparkle, sheen and brightens. While mica is a safe and natural cosmetics ingredient, it may not be the most environmentally friendly ingredient.
Nanoparticles (which range in size from 1 to 100 um, or nanometers) are extremely small particles which have been engineered or micronized to be very tiny. The smaller particle size changes the function of the ingredient, which is why they can be so useful. However, the smaller size could have different health impacts well. These particles may contain metals such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide which can pose a health concern.
Palm-derived ingredients such as palm oil are natural, effective, highly useful and safe. However, the harvesting process of palm oil is far from environmentally friendly and should be discouraged unless cleaner methods of harvesting are ensured.
Despite being a “controversial” ingredient, phenoxyethanol has a similar safety profile to—or even better than— other commonly used preservatives. Preservatives are necessary to kill/prevent the growth of microbes in any product so they are naturally destructive than other ingredients. This alcohol-based preservative may irritate the skin but does not pose a serious health risk as long as the concentration in minimal.
These are a class of chemicals that are commonly used in consumer products and act as active ingredients for killing off microbial products and disinfection. They are also used in the beauty industry as an antistatic and anti-frizz agent in conditioners. As effective as they may be in function, ammonium compounds can have adverse health effects and should be substituted with products that use other, safer preservatives instead. “Quats” as they’re known, usually have “… onium chloride” in their names, e.g. Benzalkonium Chloride.
Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that may increase sun sensitivity when applied to skin and worn into direct sunlight. Some forms of vitamin A (for example isotretinoin) are more harmful than others. However, pregnant women should strictly avoid all products containing retinoids which are essentially vitamin A derivatives. High doses of this vitamin are clinically linked to serious birth defects.
Linear silicones, like Dimethicone and others, can improve skin texture, fill in wrinkles, and help condition the hair. It’s unlikely that these large, stable molecules are a health concern for cosmetics users, but they do not biodegrade well (or at all) and are bad for the environment. Depending on the size of the ingredient and your skin’s sensitivity, silicones may clog pores. So those with acne-prone skin may want to avoid products that list silicones as an ingredient.
Talc is used in a range of consumer products, including color cosmetics and powders. Because of its potential contamination with asbestos, talc products are now discouraged in all forms. Talc may also be associated with a risk of inhalation which can cause rapid adverse effects.
This substance can be found in a number of antiperspirant products and is currently listed as a pregnancy category C substance according to FDA. This is because aluminum chloride hexahydrate can affect sweat glands and cause burning and itching of the skin.
Oral salicylic acid in pregnancy is a big no, but not much is ever told about topical salicylate use. Although understudied, topical salicylate use should be avoided because it may have the same effects as any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and can increase the risk of bleeding in the pregnant state.
Generally speaking, this chemical has lesser known negative effects when compared to other substances in the list. However, it’s best to avoid its use when pregnant because of its possible ill effects on growth and enzyme function. It may also increase the risk of a premature labor.
Animal derived ingredients can be found in not just food items but also cosmetic products. These ingredients can pose a threat to the healthy development of the fetus because of their inherent ability to generate an immune response. Cholesterol, lanolin, keratin and lactose are some exceptions that can be used when pregnant.
BHA is another common ingredient found in cosmetic products that should be avoided in pregnancy. BHA exposure has been linked to skin irritation, hormonal imbalance and even cancer development. Animal studies have shown poor weight gain in fetuses exposed to BHA in utero.
Just like BHA, BHT is a common compound present in many lipsticks and related makeup products. This toluene-based preservative has oncogenic properties that can irritate the skin and cause neoplastic changes.
Some chemical sunscreens have been linked to hormonal imbalances in pregnancy. Others, like Avobenzone, may be safer but the safety profile is yet to be established. Chemical sunscreens that contain harsh chemicals like Benzophenone, Oxybenzone, and Octinoxate should be avoided.
Cyclic Silicones include Cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), Cyclopentasiloxane (D5), Cyclohexasiloxane (D6), and Cyclomethicone. Silicones have been clinically proven to affect certain aspects of reproductive and endocrine functions. They may also be linked to development delay in children.
EDTA comes in different forms and acts as a chelating agent that binds to metal ions in the circulation, thereby inactivating them. Although approved in certain heavy metal treatment, EDTA usage may do more harm than good, particularly for the environment since it is not biodegradable.
These ingredients (including DEA/TEA/MEA/ETA) may be contaminated with chemicals such as nitrosamines that are linked to certain types of gastrointestinal cancers, particularly stomach cancer.
Ethoxylated compounds are typically processed from ethylene oxide which is a known carcinogen. Another carcinogen that may contaminate this ingredient is 1,4-dioxane. Ethoxylated ingredients on the product label may exist as Laureth Sulfate compounds, emulsifying wax, polyethylene glycol and polysorbate.
Formaldehyde is a common preservative used in a number of everyday products including cosmetics. Although typically not listed as an ingredient, you can keep an eye out for formaldehyde “releasers” or “donors” that are often are listed on ingredient labels. Some examples include DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, and Quaternium-15.
Hydroquinone and its derivatives are often branded as potent skin lightening agents and found in a number of skincare products. It works by inhibiting melanin synthesis and this can cause skin irritation, dyspigmentation and even pave way for cancer development. It active metabolite, Benzene, is a known carcinogen and is therefore prohibited in pregnancy in particular.
This solvent has been used as an additive in perfumes for many years. Because of its well-studied adverse profile, it has now been banned in the EU. Methyl Cellusolve can cause skin irritation and may cause multisystem effects including neurological, bone, kidney, and liver dysfunction.
Another ingredient that is now banned in the EU is this preservative. Allow only in restricted to very small amounts in rinse-off products, this preservative can cause skin allergies and irritation and may be toxic to the central nervous system.
Synthetic musks have been used in fragrances for many years. They include two major types: nitromusks and polycyclic musks. Both of these compounds pose a threat to both health and the environment which is why they are prohibited in several industries today. Nitromusks have been associated with endocrinal abnormalities and should be strictly avoided in pregnancy.
Paraben-free products have now been embraced and adopted by safe and healthy cosmetic and skincare brands worldwide. That is because certain Parabens have been linked to hormone disruption, carcinogenesis, and other adverse effects. Paraben compounds should be avoided in pregnancy because they may have a harmful effect on hormone levels.
Fluorinated compounds are employed in a myriad of products because of their water-repellent or stain-resistant properties. However, these compounds are non-biodegradable, and many have been linked to a variety of health issues including skin cancer, hormone disruption, liver toxicity, and even obesity.
Though not all petroleum-derived ingredients are a cause of concern, some of them include petrolatum, a semisolid mixture derived from processed petroleum, Mineral Oil, Paraffin Wax, and Liquid Paraffin. The concern with these ingredients is the possible PAH contamination that is a well-known carcinogen.
Phthalates are plasticizing chemicals. They may not always appear on product ingredient labels, which is why they can be particularly difficult to avoid. Some products will simply list them under ‘fragrance’ without disclosing the actual component. Since some phthalates have been linked to hormone disruption, it’s a good idea to steer clear from them in pregnancy.
Usually used in hair dyes, resorcinol is linked to a host of issues including allergies, irritation, and hormone disruption.
Toulene has a well-established adverse effect profile for pregnant and non-pregnant individuals. This is a solvent that is toxic to not just the immune system, but may also cause birth defects in the fetus. Toulene is a common solvent found in nail polish. Women who are pregnant should, therefore, limit their exposure to nail paint and avoid visiting nail salons.
These ingredients are antimicrobial agents used in personal care and home-cleaning products. They remain for a prolonged period of time in the environment and may be associated with hormone disruption.