Study: Workplace exposures put nurses at risk for lost pregnancies

By: January 23rd, 2012 Email This Post Print This Post

Nurses exposed to cancer treatment drugs or chemicals used to sterilize medical devices may be at higher risk of spontaneous abortions, according to a study appearing in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, reports Reuters, January 13.

That exposures to some chemicals are tied to lost pregnancies is not surprising, but Christina Lawson of NIOSH and the lead author of the study told Reuters: “What surprised me the most was that (chemotherapy) drugs are something we’ve been trying to educate nurses on, about the hazards, and we’re still finding exposures during the first trimester.”

“Occupational exposures among nurses and risk of spontaneous abortion” investigated self-reported exposure to antineoplastic drugs, anesthetic gases, antiviral drugs, sterilizing agents (disinfectants), and X-rays in 7482 U.S. nurses.

The study found “antineoplastic drug exposure was associated with a 2-fold increased risk of spontaneous abortion, particularly with early spontaneous abortion before the 12th week … sterilizing agents [were] associated with a 2-fold increased risk of late spontaneous abortion.”


By Bruce Cunha on January 24th, 2012 at 9:49 am

Another poorly done study. We have to stop sturring the pot on studies that have significant flaws and even the authors say.

“She added that it’s difficult to determine the cause of the miscarriages seen in the study because the researchers don’t know which chemicals each woman had contact with, and for how long.

Additionally, the current study only drew a link between the chemicals and the miscarriages, but did not prove that the materials caused the women to lose their pregnancies.

The surveys asked nurses to remember back sometimes as far as eight years, which leaves room for inaccuracies as well.”

A study done in 2010 found some increase but the strength of association was weaker in well designed studies (J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Oct;19(10):1851-62.
Occupational exposures and adverse pregnancy outcomes among nurses: a systematic review and meta-analysis)

We know that exposure to these agents causes reproductive issues. Studies in the 70’s and 80’s lead to our current safety precautions.

Question we need to ask is if exposures are still occurring, and why.


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