A New Reason to Avoid Junk Food During Pregnancy (Acrylamide)


1 A New Reason

There’s a new reason to avoid junk food during pregnancy, and it’s called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a chemical that is used primarily for industrial purposes, and is used in such things as paper, dyes and plastics. Researchers in Europe and the United States have found acrylamide in certain foods that were heated to a temperature above 120 degrees Celsius (248 degrees Fahrenheit), but not in foods prepared below this temperature.


Some of the foods that researchers have found include things like French fries and potato chips. When these foods are baked, browned, toasted and heated, it produces a chemical reaction which causes acrylamide to be formed.

2 How It Affects Pregnancy

Research has shown that a maternal diet that includes acrylamide can lead to low birth weight in newborns. Mothers who consumed high amounts of acrylamide (which is often found in coffee and various junk foods), gave birth to babies who were up to four ounces smaller than mothers who did not eat foods containing the chemical.


The acrylamide mothers also had babies with smaller head circumferences. So, what does this mean? Well, lower birth rates have been associated with many different health problems in children, and a smaller head circumference has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment.

3 More To Know

While acrylamide has been a suspected carcinogen since 1994, it is just now getting to the point where scientists and researchers can see a direct link between the chemical and effects on newborns. So, what should women do if they are pregnant and worried about their intake of acrylamide and how it could potentially harm their baby?

While currently, there have been no official recommendations that pregnant women should stop consuming foods high in acrylamide, it is a good idea to pay attention to your intake of foods that could contain the chemical while you are pregnant. Try to steer clear of junk foods like chips, fries, etc that could contain acrylamide.


It is important to remember that both toast and coffee also contain the chemical. When eating toast, make sure it is toasted to the lightest possible color, and the same goes for fries. As light as you can get them, the lower they will be in acrylamide.

Women should try to avoid these foods as much as possible, since they are truly not very healthy. Acrylamide is definitely something that women should keep an eye out for during their pregnancy, so they can protect their babies from any potential harm.

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Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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