Prenatal exposures to environmental chemicals have known adverse effects on maternal and neonatal outcomes. The most common are:
- Second hand tobacco smoke - Fetal exposure has been linked to decreased birth weight, increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome, and predisposition to persistent pulmonary hypertension.
- Lead from ingestion of particles in dust from paint or soil, or from water or foreign bodies can cause cognitive impairment, creating inattentive, hyperactive, and disorganized behavior.
- Mercury from eating fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, and shark; elemental mercury used in folk remedies, such as Santeria practices by some groups of Latinx. Children born to mothers who ingested a large amount of mercury have deficits in language, attention, and memory.
- Persistent organic pollutants, such as dioxin, are compounds formed during paper bleaching and waste incineration. Studies have shown lower psychomotor scores in children through 2 years old, decreases in short-term memory through 4 years old, and lowered IQs through 11 years old.