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Video IconSharon Lavigne, genetic counselor and coordinator for the CT Pregnancy Exposure Information Service, is interviewed by Yvonne Nava of NBC Connecticut.

Feature Story

Health Center Today, January 28, 2010

Pregnancy Risk Line Ė A Safety Net for Expectant Moms

By Carolyn Pennington

Is this cold medication safe? Should I be concerned about spilling ink toner in my office? What about car exhaust fumes? Being pregnant raises a womanís awareness of the potential dangers around her. Connecticut residents have access to a state-funded program that has the answers. The Connecticut Pregnancy Exposure Information Service (CPEIS) provides quick phone advice for pregnant and nursing women regarding medications, radiation, infectious diseases, substance abuse, and occupational and environmental exposures. The call is free and confidential.

Itís important to remember that any woman who gets pregnant has a three to seven percent chance to have a child with a medically significant birth defect. Most substances taken by an expectant mother will not harm the unborn baby. Some, however, may cause a birth defect or other problem if taken at a critical time in the pregnancy. For any exposure during pregnancy, the benefits must be weighed against the potential harm.

The CPEIS also works with the Health Centerís Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine to provide evaluations to prevent or reduce exposures at work that may have an effect on fertility, motherís health, a pregnancy and the babyís development. A fee is charged for this consultation but is generally covered by most insurance.

Women in the Hartford area can reach the service at 860-523-6419. In other parts of Connecticut, call 800-325-5391.