Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN, shares how you can help educate your pregnant patients to become more educated consumers.
This interview features Katie Huffling, DNP, RN, CNM, FAAN, executive director of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments in Mount Rainier, Maryland.
KH: We're the only national nursing organization who focuses primarily on the intersection of health and the environment. I'm also a nurse midwife, and my interest in environmental health was really born from a greater recognition of how the environment can impact reproductive health. It's kind of been woven throughout my career as a nurse midwife.
Q: What can providers do to help parents-to-be become more educated consumers?
KH: When we're seeing patients, especially during pregnancy, it's the perfect time to be able to help them make positive changes. They want to have the healthiest pregnancy possible--the healthiest baby possible. So it's a really opportune time to be doing patient education.
In assessing for exposures, [we should be] talking about things like personal care products, the products that you're using in your home--like cleaning products--and what you're bringing into your home. I think [the Safe Baby Products Guide] is a really great tool for providers to guide these conversations and help patients start to realize that, unfortunately, we all need to be educated consumers.
When I first got into the this field, I thought, 'Oh, the government is making sure that everything on the shelf has been tested for safety,' and that's totally not true. It's really unfortunate.
So, we can be educated consumers, but also, if a number of people are going to different manufacturers and are saying, 'We want safer products,' we can really guide these industries into producing safer products, and the more that they start producing them, the more the price will come down and access is increased across the board.
We've seen it happen. A group of nurses that I worked with several years ago, one of the most popular baby washes that we use in most hospitals had a byproduct of manufacturing, it had formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane, which are both carcinogens that were in that product, and because of pressure from nurses, we were able to get them to bring the safer formulation that was being used in the European Union quickly to the US and available for use in hospitals and on the store shelves, and that's what's available now. So our voices really do matter.