My boys were born at 36w3d and each weighed over 6 lbs, but they ended up in NICU for a week due to feeding issues, breathing issues, and weight gain issues. I have since made peace with their stay and the emotional toll it took on me and my husband. I have mourned the loss of a “normal” birth experience. The three years since our short NICU stay has given me ample time to get to a place where I can write that first sentence without tearing up or feeling overly emotional.
Then I read this story on NPR about phthalate exposure in NICU babies. Those little tiny feeding tubes in Nate and Alex’s noses and those IVs? They need soft plastic to function correctly and that soft plastic has been shown to impact sexual development in mice. The study in the article showed phthalates leach out of those tubes and bags into babies.
The good news? Limited studies have shown no long-term impact to NICU babies. The bad news? “any effect on ICU babies is likely to be subtle — a slight delay in puberty, or fertility problems later in life.” At the end of the day, those tubes saved my boys’ lives. I know this rationally, as a former environmental engineer. And while obviously much more research is needed into this topic, I couldn’t help but want to title my post “Insult to Injury.”