Q: I painted a mural in the nursery using acrylic paint. I wore gloves and had a fan running, but I'm nervous about birth defects. Will my baby be OK?
A: From the description of the precautions you took--wearing gloves and painting in a well-ventilated room--your baby is likely to be just fine. Although no studies specifically confirm this, experts believe that a pregnant woman's limited exposure to household or hobbyist paint (particularly acrylic paint--which, along with tempera or watercolor, is recommended over oil-based paint) shouldn't be a problem. My greater concern relative to paint is twofold:
Prior to the 1970s, many paints contained lead, which we now know is unsafe for mother and baby. To avoid this hazard, do not scrape or sand any paint while pregnant (or after the baby is born, for that matter).
Pregnant women should limit their exposure to industrial paints and chemical solvents. All expectant mothers who work in proximity to such products should wear full-body protective clothing and a mask; they also should avoid eating or drinking in areas where these products are used.