Pregnancy is Prettier and 'Healthier' Without the Tan: Expert

June 4, 2010

( -- Even though it's understood that ultraviolet light cannot penetrate the body to reach the womb, or the fetus, there are other factors directly related to tanning that can put both the mother and fetus at risk.

Is it safe to sunbathe or tan when pregnant?

This mother-to-be question is perhaps not the first to come to mind but it’s logical to ask nonetheless, especially for women who live in hot geographical locations or become pregnant during the summer months.

"Nine months is such a small amount of time to make vanity sacrifices, so I advise it’s always best to stay on the safe side by avoiding sun exposure for the purpose of tanning altogether when pregnant,” says James Van Hook , MD, professor and director of maternal-fetal medicine at UC Health.

Even though it’s understood that ultraviolet light cannot penetrate the body to reach the womb, or the fetus, there are other factors directly related to tanning that can put both the mother and fetus at risk, he says.

For example, during , especially in the first trimester, hormonal changes occur that alter normal pigmentation and can make the skin more susceptible to burn or rash. Even without tanning, some pregnant women experience something commonly known as "the mask of pregnancy" or chloasma, which appears as irregular brown patches on the face.

One of the biggest concerns regarding tanning and pregnancy, Van Hook says, lies with the possibility of dehydration or overheating (hyperthermia). In the initial stages of pregnancy, there are certain studies that have linked extreme hyperthermia to birth defects including , abdominal wall defects and problems with the development of the nervous system.

Both external and internal concerns for the mother and child extend to the use of tanning beds as well.

"Although dehydration issues are less likely with , it would seem to not make sense to increase pregnancy risk through exposure via behaviors such as the use of a ,” Van Hook says.

Regardless of whether you are pregnant or not, exposure to the sun puts you at risk for premature aging and malignant melanoma (skin cancer), so it’s always best to follow the sun protection guidelines provided by the American Cancer Society and hydrate often.

Explore further: Women still tanning despite dangers

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5 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2010
The article said nothing about avoidance being prettier. The claims seem more like opinion than anything. Vitamin D production is essential to health.
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
Millions of years of evolution IN THE SUN, w/o cancer promoting but money making sun block, and now another poorly thought out opinion that sun exposure is just plain bad.
It appears that the lack of vitamin D3 from sun exposure (or pills) results in far, far, far more health problems than the exposure itself. Read all the science;
Optimizing vitamin D3 levels thru UV exposure and/or ingesting D3 pills will greatly improve the overall health of a population and reduce health care costs (estimated to be between 25 and 50% for Canadia/ens).
Could this U of Cinti release be more industrial medical complex propaganda to forestall a potential loss of income if more people optimize their vitamin D3 levels?

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