Are Microwaves Safe During Pregnancy?

Is it okay to be around a microwave oven while pregnant?
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Updated February 28, 2017
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Ah, first-world problems, eh? I mean, can you imagine if we had to make our popcorn the old-fashioned way, on the stove? (Oh wait, there were open fires before that.) The answer is the usual pregnancy catch-22: While there are no studies that prove hovering nearby while your coffee is being nuked is going to hurt your unborn baby, there are no studies to confirm that it definitively won’t harm the little guy or gal either.

The concern over this handy appliance stems from the fear that radiation can seep out during the cooking process. The FDA carefully regulates the manufacture of new microwave ovens under strict safety standards to ensure that emission levels are well below the limit of what’s considered a health risk. So as long as you’ve got a fairly recent model, you’re probably A-OK. Double-check that all the hinges, latches and seals are damage-free, and if you suspect that your microwave is leaking radiation, contact the manufacturer, a microwave service organization, your state health department or your closest FDA office.

While there is no published research declaring that standing nearby while your machine is working its melting magic will or won’t hurt you or your baby (Can you imagine that study? “Okay, lady, another 20 minutes and you can go to the bathroom…”), it seems like taking a few steps back would be an easy, not-neurotic thing to do. Similarly, while no studies have proven that nuking anything plastic will give you cancer, the USDA says only to cook in containers that are labeled microwave-safe and to never heat cold-storage containers (margarine tubs, yogurt and cottage cheese containers) because they could warp or melt, potentially releasing dangerous chemicals into your food.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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