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OP/ED: Tattoos During Pregnancy...Yes or No?

By Debra Myers     Jun 16, 2007 in Health
How safe is it for a woman to have a tattoo while she's pregnant? There seems to be conflicting views on this subject. The truth is, there's very little information out there about the dyes that are used, and if there are any side-effects to the baby.
At the OBGYN's office yesterday, my daughter and her doctor got into a discussion about just how safe it is getting a tattoo while a woman's pregnant. I was very surprised at her doctor's answer: that actually, there's never really been too much research into this area as far as he knew, and personally, he recommends that a woman wait until after she delivers. Sound advice, it seems.
What started this series of questions off was my daughter's friend had stated that she saw no harm in a woman getting a tattoo done while being pregnant. (Which my daughter is, but is not interested in getting a tattoo done at this time.) My daughter, ever the curious person she is, thought she'd discuss it with her doctor. Since she's told me about it, I've spent some time doing some research online...and her doctor was right...there is very little information out there. What there is though, is plenty of caution.
First off, and this goes for anyone getting a tattoo, there's always that off-chance that one "could be putting yourself at risk of contracting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV from a contaminated needle." While it's true that chances are slim that this would happen, it's not worth putting your baby at risk. (We all know that what goes into mommy's body, also enters into the baby's blood stream.) Plus, if there were an infection...I don't think I need to say more.
Then, you have tattoo artists that try to assure you that there is nothing harmful in the inks. [url=http://media.www.commonwealthtimes.com/media/storage/paper634/news/2005/04/14/Spectrum/Going.Under.The.Needle.Could.Trendy.Tattoos.Stand.In.Your.Way.Of.Getting.An.Epid-925296.shtml?norewrite200608252129&sourcedomain=www.commonwealthtimes.com t=_blank]River City Tattoo artist, Max Wetzel says, "There's nothing in the ink that's harmful." Wetzel uses powdered, food-grade pigment, known as ink, for his tattoos. Black ink, which he said is the safest color to use, is made up of carbon and water. WebMD has this to say: There are more than 50 different pigments and shades used in tattooing today. None, including the hair dye henna, are actually approved by the FDA for skin injection.[24] Some tattooists even use industrial grade printer ink or automobile paint.[25]
American Pregnancy.com has this to say: "It is possible that the chemicals in the dye may affect the development of the baby during the first 12 weeks, but the risks are unknown, as are any effects on the baby during the remainder of the pregnancy."
Something to really think about.
During my wanderings, I also found out something else. That women who have tattoos on their lower back, depending on the doctor/anesthesiologist, may not be able to have an epidural during delivery. [url=http://media.www.commonwealthtimes.com/media/storage/paper634/news/2005/04/14/Spectrum/Going.Under.The.Needle.Could.Trendy.Tattoos.Stand.In.Your.Way.Of.Getting.An.Epid-925296-page2.shtml t=_blank]Here is what I found: "Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Hospital anesthesiologist, Dr. Martha Mitchell, said the issue has been raised in physician meetings.
"Some anesthesiologists on my team feel strongly that an epidural should not pass through dyed pigments," Dr. Mitchell said. "It may pose an opportunity to sustain injury."
She explained that any type of debris, like fat cells or tattoo pigments, can be dragged forward into the epidural space. The foreign material may stick to whatever it comes in contact with, such as nerves or fat particles, causing possible infection, inflammation, or tumors, she said.
Again, I think it depends on the doctor/anesthesiologist.
There is enough information here that wisely warns against pregnant women getting tattoos, even though there is not a valid study that has been done to conclusively say that it is a danger to the unborn baby. I know that I did learn a lot doing this research...there was several things I did not know.
Your thoughts?
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