31/07/2009 12:20 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Chemicals To Avoid When You're Pregnant - New Study

Chemicals found in household plastics, cosmetics and cleaning products could increase the risk of having a small baby, according to scientists.

A study published in the Journal of Pediatrics found higher levels of phthalates in babies with low birth weight.

This is worrying, say the experts, as low birth weight is one of the leading causes of mortality in children under five.

It's also associated with increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in adulthood.

The use of phthalates has been restricted in children's toys in the European Union since 1999, I am relieved to learn!

But the chemicals are commonly found in plastics, cleaning products, glues and paints. They are also found in some beauty products, although some types have been banned from some cosmetics in the European Union.

There are so many things you need to avoid when you're pregnant and it's hard to keep track of everything.

When I was pregnant I was such a worrier, I spent hours standing in shops peering at the ingredients on things like hand cream and kitchen cleaners.

You'd be amazed at some of the horrible chemicals that appear in these products. But it looks like we should really be reading the labels and avoiding phthalates if at all possible.

The latest study was carried out by researchers from China's Fudan University and Rockefeller University in New York.

They looked at phthalate levels in the cord blood and meconium - the first baby poo - of 201 newborn babies in China and found the chemicals in 70% of them.

The levels were significantly higher in the 88 children with low birth weights. Other studies have previously linked the chemicals to obesity and allergies.

If you need some help, click here for Sarah Powell's tips for a chemical-free pregnancy.

If you can offer any advice about products to avoid or products which are safe and great to use, please let us know!

Source: The Journal of Pediatrics