What is paint?
Paint that is used on the inside walls of homes is a mixture of chemicals, including organic solvents, which have raised concerns in connection with pregnancy. In the past, concern has surrounded the presence of lead in paint, but lead-based paint has not been used indoors since the early 1970s, so lead is a potential issue only in very old buildings.
Is there a safe amount of paint to which I can be exposed during pregnancy?
There are many organic solvents in paint and determination of the concentrations of each solvent in the air that a pregnant woman is breathing is extremely complex. Thus, defining safety in terms of a particular amount of paint, paint fumes, or the concentrations of organic solvents in the fumes is not an easy task.
Can exposure to paint make it harder for me to get pregnant?
Possibly. Some evidence suggests that exposure to organic solvents similar to those present in house paint can increase the time it takes to get pregnant.
Can exposure to paint cause a miscarriage?
This is possible. Some evidence suggests that exposure to organic solvents similar to those present in house paint can increase your chance of having a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage).
Can exposure to paint cause a birth defect?
Research suggests that exposure to organic solvents similar to those present in house paint can increase a mother’s chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect (incomplete closure of the layers of tissue covering the brain or spinal cord) or an orofacial cleft (a split within a structure of the mouth or face, such as cleft palate).
Are there long-term consequences to my baby from my exposure to paint?
Organic solvents similar to those present in house paint may possibly increase a mother’s chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect (incomplete closure of the layers of tissue covering the brain or spinal cord) or an orofacial cleft (a split within a structure of the mouth or face). There may be long-term effects of maternal exposure to paint on behavioral devepment of the baby that are not well understood.
I just found out I am 6 weeks pregnant and last weekend I was exposed to paint. Will my baby have a problem?
No. A one time exposure to paint fumes is not a concern. More concern surrounds constant exposure to a paint source, for example if you were a professional house painter.
Is it ok to be exposed to some paint after the first trimester?
Concern about congenital defects resulting from maternal paint exposure is greatest during the first trimester, but it is still wise to minimize exposure throughout pregnancy.
How will I know if exposure to paint has hurt my baby?
It may not be possible to know, since there are a multitude of environmental agents to which a pregnant women can be exposed that can cause birth defects or other problems.
Can I be exposed to paint while breastfeeding?
Organic solvents and lead can get into breast milk, but this is generally a concern for nursing women in industrial settings, not in the home.
What if the father of the baby is exposed to paint prior to conception?
Paternal exposure to organic solvents, like those in paint, prior to conception may possibly increase the risk of your baby being born with a neural tube defect.
Resources for paint exposure in pregnancy:
For more information about paint exposure during pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or read the following articles: