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Chemical solvents

Exposure to solvent chemicals in the workplace increases birth defect risk in children

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: chemical solvents, exposure, birth defects

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(NaturalNews) Women looking to get pregnant need to make sure they avoid exposure to chemical solvents, as their children could end up suffering the consequences in the form of birth defects. A new study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reveals that women exposed to organic solvent chemicals in the months leading up to getting pregnant are at higher risk of having children with birth defects compared to women not exposed.

Dr. Suzanne M. Gilboa from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and her colleagues examined data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), a multi-site, case-control study that continues to evaluate both genetic and non-genetic risk factors for birth defects. Dr. Gilboa and her team specifically looked for a link between solvent exposure and the onset of congenital heart disease subtypes.

Dr. Gilboa and her team pulled figures on children born with congenital heart defects between 1997 and 2002, and compared them to figures on healthy children born during the same time. They then analyzed the data to see if there was any correlation between maternal exposure to solvent chemicals in the workplace, and birth defects in children exposed to such chemicals via their mothers who were exposed at some time before or during their pregnancies.

Using the expert consensus approach, the team found that five percent of mothers whose babies were born with birth defects, and four percent of those whose babies were born without birth defects, were exposed to an organic solvent chemical during the time they were trying to conceive, or after becoming pregnant. A published evidence approach to the data revealed that 10 percent of mothers whose babies were born without birth defects, and eight percent of those whose babies were born without birth defects, were exposed to an organic solvent chemical.

"Our results indicate that maternal occupational exposure during the period of one month before conception through the first trimester of pregnancy is a potential risk factor for some specific congenital heart disease phenotypes," wrote the authors in their study. "Some of these findings were consistent with those previously reported in the literature, and other findings were new, yet all warrant corroboration in other study populations."

Organic solvent chemicals are typically found in paints, glues, dyes, plastics, printing inks, degreasing and cleaning agents, polymers, synthetic textiles, and agricultural pesticides and herbicides. Solvent chemicals are highly toxic, and easily absorb through the skin, as well as through the lungs and mouth.

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