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Do the fumes of fabric and vinyl paint harm the fetus?

Q: I bought some fabric and vinyl paint and painted the doors and the dashboard of my car. I wore a paint mask and I was outside. I want to know if the fumes could have harmed my 24 weeks fetus? I read the can after painting and it said that it could cause birth defects. Do you think the fumes could have affected my unborn child?

A:Environmental agents that can cause birth defects are called teratogens and these include some infections, high-dose radiation, some medicines, illicit drugs, supplements like vitamin A in very high doses, herbs and various chemicals. The effect of exposure depends on several factors like month of pregnancy when exposure occurred, the route & amount of chemical exposed to, genetic influence and the degree of risk associated with a particular substance. While there is information regarding many drugs and infections that are potential teratogens, not much is documented regarding the reproductive and developmental risks of most chemicals. Prolonged, continuous exposure is worse than the short-term episodic contact like you had. It is best to avoid contact with oil-based paint, polyurethane floor finishes, spray paints, turpentine (and similar solvents), and liquid paint removers. Wear gloves and avoid direct contact with products that have strong fumes. Avoid pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. You need not worry about this incidental short-term exposure to fumes but do consult your doctor.

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