On-the-job hazards boost miscarriage risks for vets

By Tom Nordlie • Published: July 25th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Losing a pregnancy is a terrible thing.

Unfortunately, some jobs involve activities that increase the risk of miscarriage.

Women in those occupations need to take whatever precautions they can to protect themselves.

But in the workplace, different people may face different hazard levels, as demonstrated by an article published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

It featured data from an Australian health-risk study that queried everyone who graduated from the nation’s veterinary schools between 1960 and 2000.

Researchers identified almost four-hundred-fifty female veterinarians who became pregnant while working exclusively in clinical practice.

Altogether, they experienced nine-hundred-forty pregnancies. Almost one-hundred-fifty of them ended in miscarriage.

That’s roughly sixteen percent, the same proportion of miscarriages among Australian women overall.

But the picture changed when researchers took into account the vets’ exposure to pesticides, radiation and anesthetic gases.

For example, those who performed surgery but didn’t use devices to collect loose anesthetic gas had two-and-a-half times the rate of miscarriage of a similar group that didn’t perform surgery.

Women who made more than five radiographic exams per week or used pesticide at least once a week had almost double the number of miscarriages of women who performed those activities less often.

The study didn’t specify why individual veterinarians chose to work under conditions that could threaten their pregnancies.

But the researchers said women vets should be fully informed about the risks involved.

That’s for sure.

Because nobody should unknowingly endure conditions that could threaten their future… or someone else’s.