Black Mold and Healthy Babies

Just how tough is a fetus?


Allyson is very newly pregnant, just a few weeks, and wrote that black mold was found in her office. She's worried it could pose a risk to her baby and wonders what to do. Boy, I'll bet she's worried. That stuff seems nasty. And no one's more vulnerable than a newly pregnant woman. Just as we're starting the wild ride we call pregnancy, we realize how threatening the world can be to our little baby. My immediate reaction, Allyson is: call your doctor and get official advice (in writing) that you need to work in an office that has no mold. Then get the heck out of that office until it's all cleaned up.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control, there are no known studies relating the effects of mold on human pregnancy. Studies have shown the substances molds produce may have a link to birth defects in animals. They may not have the same effect on humans because test animals are exposed in ways that are very different to the ways humans are exposed. What that means is: nobody in their right mind is going to test toxic substances on a pregnant lady and pregnant ladies are unlikely to be exposed to enough mold-toxins to do any damage during normal interactions with their office wall. Their recommendation is to remove the mold ASAP. Sounds like that's your office plan too, and I'm glad to hear it. Try to stay out of the mold removal operations. It's unlikely to do you or your baby any harm but still, black mold is gross and scary.

Now, let's talk about how resilient and tough those little fetuses are. Think about the huge number of babies conceived after a few too many double margaritas and a pack of Camels. Think about how much junk a woman can consume in those first few weeks (months?) before she has a clue she's pregnant. You hear about women (and I've met a few) who never knew they were pregnant until a stomachache brought them to the emergency room in labor. They probably weren't following the best medical advice to avoid consuming anything during pregnancy not grown in an organic monastery. How about babies in third-world countries whose mothers have little to eat, no clean place to live and polluted air and water? For the most part, these babies are fine. I'm in the unfortunate position of seeing drug and alcohol exposed babies in the first few days of life. These are tough little guys who, for the most part, seem OK. Of course, we don't know what the rest of their lives will be like, but at least physically, they look pretty good.

Cells divide so fast in the first fragile weeks of pregnancy it's amazing they don't all go haywire when we inhale a lung-full of bus-exhaust. Most of the time, however, regardless of what we mothers do, they divide, multiply and turn into vital organs, then beautiful babies, just like they're supposed to. The statistics tell us that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, most of those before we know we're pregnant. Sure, that's a daunting number but that means that 80% go full term and most of those result in lovely children. Of those 80%, you can bet that not every mother is drinking only purified spring water out of sterilized chalices while munching carrot sticks grown by virgin farmers. A lot of those mothers are eating Twinkies and drinking Redbull and still have lovely children.

This is not, by any means, a license to eat, drink, inhale, or in any way partake in junk. Just the opposite, really. We, as parents, have a huge obligation to take the very best care of our children and ourselves possible. Nutrition and the environment our children grow up in have a huge impact on their development, intellect, and well-being. These babies will be the generation that rules the world in not too many years. Let's treat them really, really, well in hopes they'll be healthy, happy, and well adapted, with parents who feel the same. Be reassured though, that even when exposed to less than perfect elements (like black mold), they usually turn out just fine.

So what's the take-home message, here, Allyson? Get away from the mold, eat and drink carefully, exercise, get good medical care and hope for the best. You have an excellent chance of having a healthy full-term baby and 100% chance of having the best little baby on the planet.

Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.