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Reproductive & Child Health News

Chemical Exposure During Pregnancy Linked to Birth Defects
March 26, 1999

A new study concludes that pregnant women who are exposed to organic solvents on the job are at significantly increased risk of giving birth to a child with fetal malformations. Researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada, studied 500 women, half of whom worked with organic solvents for at least the first three months of pregnancy, to collect data; the women were mostly factory workers, laboratory technicians, professional artists/graphic designers and printing industry workers. The study found that those women who were exposed to aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, phenols, trichloroethylene, xylene, vinyl chloride, acetone and related compounds were 13-times more likely than non-exposed women to have an infant with a malformation, including heart problems, congenital deafness, clubfoot, a neural tube defect, or a hernia requiring surgery. Overall, note authors, 13 exposed women had children with malformations, compared to one of the non-exposed women. The study is in The Journal of the American Medical Association (1999;281:1106-1109).


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