Exposure to Lab Chemicals Decreases Pregnancy Rate

April 5, 2001
Women who work with research laboratory chemicals are less likely\r\nto get pregnant than other women, according to the findings of\r\nSwedish researchers.

Women who work with research laboratory chemicals are less likely to get pregnant than other women, according to the findings of Swedish researchers.

Laboratory work and chemical exposure have previously been associated with such bad pregnancy outcomes as miscarriages, birth defects and small babies, and certain chemicals have been linked to infertility, according to Dr. Helena Wennborg from Karolinska Institute in Huddinge, Sweden, and associates.

The investigators studied 560 women and their 735 pregnancies to determine whether chemical exposure in the research laboratory might be linked to a woman''s chances of getting pregnant.

The report results appear in the April issue of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The chance of becoming pregnant during the first menstrual cycle was higher among women with no chemical exposure than among women who were exposed to chemicals in a biomedical research laboratory -- 49 percent versus 35 percent, the authors reported.

Moreover, the researchers noted, women who were exposed to known

toxic chemicals, women who worked with various sorts of cells, and women who worked with viruses required significantly more menstrual cycles to get pregnant than did women who had no such exposures.

Although women who worked in laboratories had fertility rates similar to women who worked in non-laboratory departments, the report indicated, women who worked with chemical solvents had only 79 percent of the fertility rate of women who did not.

"We have found that the use of solvents in general is associated with reduced fecundability (ability to bear children) of women working in laboratory environments," Wennborg and colleagues concluded. "Moreover, indications were obtained of reduced fecundability in connection with work with cell techniques and viruses, exposures which are previously not widely recognized in this context."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

About the Author

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Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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