In the Age of Chemistry, reproductive perils have multiplied. Modern parents face a cornecopia of chemicals which are generally invisible, but, nevertheless, reach them in the home, in the marketplace, and in the workplace. These have ominous names: carcinigens (chemicals that cross the placenta to promote childhood cancers); teratogens (chemicals that cause abortion, stillbirth, growth retardation, and birth defects; mutagens (chemicals that damage genes and chromosomes which carry genetic codes); and other toxic gases and radiations which reduce fertility.
Certain people are particularly at risk of damage from chemicals: firemen, painters, farmers, printers, electronic equipment operators, vehicle manufacturers, dentists, and dental assistants. In industrial societies, this list will undoubtedly have to expanded to include more occupations and workplaces. Although there is zealous activity on the part of a small number of scientists, it would take an army of such scientists to do the necessary studies and to warn the public of the possible perils.
These unhealthy features of the modern environment present a challenge to couples who plan to have children, requiring of them greater knowledge, awareness, and discipline than parents in simpler times. Some dangers are in the external environment and reach us through the atmosphere, crops, and the water supply. Parents can make practical choices to reduce the influence of these pervasive threats. Other hazards are encountered where they are least expected, in a medical system which has made a large investment in chemicals for medicinal purposes, and in technology for diagnostic purposes, both of which can--ironically--threaten reproductive health and the well-being of babies.
Perhaps the most immediate threat to reproductive health is the behavior of the parents themselves. Like the threats already noted, parental pollution may be unintended, yet have profound effects on their babies. WombSafe will present information about each of these different avenues of pollution. The following books are major resource volumes gathering currently available information of vital importance to reproductive perils in the Age of Chemistry.
Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk (4th ed.). G. G. Briggs, R.K. Freeman, J. Sumner and S.J. Yaffe (1994), Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins.
The Poisoned Womb: Human Reproduction in a Polluted World
John Elkington (1995), New York: Viking.
Protecting Your Baby-To-Be: Preventing Birth Defects in the First Trimester
Margie Profet (1995),. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Our Stolen Future: Are we Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence, and Survival? A Scientific Detective Story. T. Colborn, D. Dumanoski and J. P. Myers (1996), New York: Dutton.