Pregnant women have to take all kinds of precautions when it comes to their food choices, stress levels, and even doctor visits (no X-Rays, please). But what about holiday celebrations? It's completely understandable if you want to partake in your family's fireworks shows for big holidays such as the Fourth of July. But should you handle fireworks if you're pregnant?
First, consider the risk of injury. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)'s 2014 Fireworks Annual Report, fireworks caused an estimated 10,500 injuries treated by hospital emergency departments; of those who sustained injuries, 74 percent were male, and 26 percent were female. Although there was not a specific breakdown for injuries to pregnant women, the report showed that the majority of injuries included misuse of the fireworks or some type of malfunction from the devices themselves. So if you decide to shoot fireworks, follow basic safety recommendations. According to the National Council on Fireworks Safety, it's a good idea to read all fireworks instructions first, never try to relight a "dud," and move away quickly as soon as the fuse is lit. Also, it goes without saying that illegal firecrackers or M-80s are not safe for you (or probably anyone else).
In addition to the risk of injury, it may be a good idea to consider the safety of the chemicals that make up fireworks. According to Science Daily, metals used in modern fireworks include aluminum, barium, beryllium, copper, potassium, and titanium, among others. Although they help give fireworks their brilliant colors, you may not want to handle them while pregnant. For instance, as explained in the 2005 Internet Journal of Toxicology, aluminum may act as a perinatal toxicant, hampering a baby's prenatal brain development. Furthermore, beryllium is toxic to humans and high concentrations of it can lead to respiratory and heart problems, as explained by a Greenpeace briefing.
Of course, many variables affect the safe handling of these chemicals. As an example, a pregnant woman who briefly touches a string of firecrackers will not have the same level of exposure as someone who works in a fireworks booth, for instance. But if you would rather take a pass on the risk entirely and admire fireworks from the safety of a window (or television screen), then that's a smart way to celebrate as well.