Pregnant Women Concerned Over New CDC Recommendations


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Being pregnant is stressful enough, but now Ellen Johnstone has something else to worry about following the CDC's recommendations that all pregnant women in the areas affected by the recent chemical spill stay away from drinking tap water.

"We're just basically proceeding like we don't have water yet," Johnstone said. "It's bottled water for everything. I don't know when I'll shower in my own home again."

West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Secretary Karen Bowling says the CDC's recommendations are simply a cautionary move.

"The suggestion is they drink bottled water," Bowling said. "We're doing it out of caution, and if they have any concerns, please see your doctor to talk about it. Because I think that one on one conversation is the most important conversation."

But Johnstone and many other expecting moms are upset the CDC warned pregnant women several days after the water ban started being lifted.

"My first thought was why are we just now hearing about this?," Johnstone said. "All along we've been hearing 1 ppm (parts per million) was the safe amount, and now seven days into the crisis, now we have a new benchmark."

Bowling says she understands the frustrations, but ultimately, it was the CDC's call.

"I can't speak to that," Bowling said. "As soon as the guidance was issued to us from the CDC, we immediately went about providing that info to the public so that the recommendation was out there."

The CDC recommendations ask pregnant women to use bottled water until there are no detectable levels of MCHM, the chemical that spilled into the Elk River in Charleston last week.

The WV DHHR has answered many questions pregnant women may have like will the chemical harm their unborn baby, can they wash dishes or clothes with tap water, and what if they already drank the water. You can find the answers to those questions and many more on the DHHR website.


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