I know. I know. It seems like every time we turn around we hear that something else is bad for us. Of course, the reality is that, many of these “bad” items come as no surprise (think soda, plastics, weed killer, refined carbs…).
In this particular case, it is important to at least be aware of the association and do what you can to mitigate the risks. In this particular case, you have to be hypersensitive only for 9 months.
Grilling meats produces two problematic compounds. The first of these is heterocyclic amines (HCA), that are formed when grilling meats rapidly at high temperatures. Slowing down grilling times can help reduce the formation of HCA. Adding spices to the meat can also protect against the formation of HCA.
The other compound, polyaromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) is produced when fat drips off of the meat and hits the heating source. It then rises up to stick to the meat and contributes to cancer. Basting and marinating the meat, using grease traps and using leaner meats and trimming away as much fat as possible before cooking all help to reduce the formation of PAH.
This particular study looks at the contribution of exposure to PAH in pregnancy on birth weight. Highest exposures (with a combination of inhaled PAH and dietary exposure through barbecued meats) resulted in lower birth weights (by about 8 oz). The exposures had no effect on the duration of gestation, but rather somehow interfered with the growth of the baby.
Overall, this is not something to run around in fear of as a pregnant woman, but rather, something to be conscientious about when you make your dietary choices during pregnancy.