Pregnancy and Solvents
A large number of industrial solvents are known via laboratory testing to be
teratogenic to animals. This is known because researchers have systematically
exposed various animals to most of these solvent types of chemicals, and these
test animals often developed a malformed fetus. The observed malformations being
found in the animal studies include the following: limb and central nervous
system defects in mice, slow development and skeletal retardation in rats; and
abnormal physical deformities in rabbits.
Many women of childbearing age are currently being exposed to organic solvents
at the places where they work. Ironically, work in the health care professions
and work in the clothing and textile industries involve a high level of exposure
to organic solvents and these jobs are dominated by women employees.
A ten-year study was recently reported in the Journal of the American Medical
Association that attempted to evaluate pregnancy and fetal outcomes following
maternal occupational exposure to organic solvents. This study had been
conducted in Toronto, Canada and compared the outcomes of two groups of 125
pregnant women. One group were those which had been exposed occupationally to a
potential solvent during their first trimester, and the other “control”
group had not been exposed to such a potential teratogen.
The exposed group had 13 offspring with malformation damage; the control group
had only one. The research team concluded that significantly more major
malformations occurred among the fetuses of women who had been exposed to an
organic solvent. They further recommended that a woman’s exposure to organic
solvents should be minimized during pregnancy.
(Pregnancy Outcome Following Gestational Exposure to Organic Solvents – A
Prospective Controlled Study; Shattak et al; JAMA, March 24/31/1999)