average woman takes two months in sick leave during her pregnancy
Redoing the home during a pregnancy may not be a great idea at all, going by a new study on toxic compounds. Reuters

Pregnant women should avoid renovating the floor at home and put it off to well after child birth.

Certain compounds found in new carpets, floor coverings and laminations can lead to wheezing and respiratory problems in their babies, says a new study.

The health risks are caused by exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as styrene or ethyl benzene, which escape from the new flooring and are absorbed through the air.

The risk is less when no adhesive is used but even then the concentrations of the compounds are significant enough to be avoided.

The Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the "St Georg" Municipal Hospital that conducted the study say that while redoing the floor should be avoided during pregnancy or in the first year of a child's life, exposure to these volatile chemical compounds seems to be more critical in pregnancy than in the first year of a child's life.

Children whose mother or father has a history of asthma, hay fever or other allergic diseases are at increased risk.

Volatile organic compounds are organic compounds that easily vaporise. Besides carbon, they contain hydrogen, oxygen, fluorine, chlorine, bromine, sulphur and nitrogen.

Released from burning fuels like gasoline and natural gas and also from solvents, paints and glues, the VOCs can also form ground level ozone on reaction with nitrogen oxides.

Writing in Environment International, the scientists say that avoiding renovation during pregnancy could prevent almost 20,000 cases per year of wheezing in infants in Germany alone.

The study measured pollutants in homes and environment as well as conducted laboratory tests and medical examinations.

Chemicals from home renovations lead to changes in the immune system of new-born children, as shown by earlier Leipzig studies.