Every pregnant woman or mom can most certainly relate to the fears gripping some swelling belly bearers in West Virginia, myself included.
According to a new directive from public health officials, tap water may remain unsafe for pregnant women to drink following a January 9 chemical spill near Charleston, W.Va. This announcement comes after area residents were advised that it was okay to resume drinking the water this past weekend.
"Due to limited availability of data, and out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to consider an alternative drinking water source for pregnant women until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden advised West Virginia residents according to CNN.
It's worth noting that often pregnant women are counseled to follow different guidelines than "normal" people as their immune systems are suppressed. When you're pregnant, you can catch a cold when someone coughs in the same room as you. Additionally, the long term effects of the chemical in question, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, on a fetus are not fully understood.
What we do know is this: exposure to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which is used in cleaning coal, can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and a rash. That some of these symptoms mimic those experienced during pregnancy further complicates the issue!
And frighteningly, hospital visits are up in the area. But how many of these cases are due to heightened anxiety over potential exposure? It's understandable that emotions are running high under the circumstances.
Either way, if you are pregnant it isn't worth the risk of drinking water that might hurt your unborn baby. It seems bottled water is a much safer alternative.
The question remains that if the drinking water is not safe for expectant women, how safe could it be for everyone else, especially young children? I wouldn't take the risk of mixing my baby's formula with the tap water. I'd also worry about bathing my 3-year-old or 5-year-old in it. Yikes!
Still, testing has revealed that the city's water is safe for the general population to drink as only 1 part per million of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol is detectable, a standard that meets guidelines set by the CDC. Hopefully this is enough to ease some residents' fears.
Ultimately, we moms who don't live in the Mountain State are thinking of all our comrades in West Virginia with buns in the oven or little kids to care for; stay safe!