Green Buckeye RN

Reuters: Nurses’ Miscarriages Linked To Chemicals At Work
February 3, 2012, 11:26 am
Filed under: News

By Kerry Grens

NEW YORK | Fri Jan 13, 2012 12:20pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Nurses who worked with chemotherapy drugs or sterilizing chemicals were twice as likely to have a miscarriage as their colleagues who didn’t handle these materials, in a new study.

Lead author Christina Lawson, a researcher at the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), said she was not too surprised that exposure to certain chemicals would be tied to lost pregnancies.

“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,” Lawson told Reuters Health.

Because chemotherapy drugs typically target rapidly dividing cells, such as those in a tumor — or a fetus, they have been a concern for pregnant women who come into contact with them, Lawson said.

Not all previous research has agreed on whether nurses’ exposures at work are tied to more miscarriages, though.

To help resolve the issue, Lawson and her colleagues set out to do a larger study than the earlier ones.

They surveyed nearly 7,500 nurses who had had a pregnancy between 1993 and 2002.

The nurses were asked to remember how often they worked with certain chemicals or equipment, such as X-rays, anesthesia, anti-cancer drugs and disinfectants, during each trimester.

One out of every 10 nurses ended up losing her pregnancy before the half-way point, 20 weeks.

Lawson said that number seems similar to the rate of miscarriages in the general population.

However, among nurses who handled chemotherapy drugs for more than an hour a day, that rate was double – about two out of every 10 nurses lost her pregnancy.

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