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Originally published April 28 2008

Serious Safety Issues for Female Veterinarians

by Lynn Berry

(NaturalNews) X-rays, anaesthetic gases and pesticides contribute to a high level of miscarriage in female veterinarians. In fact, researchers found that they were twice as likely to miscarry as reported in an article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. (1)

Researchers from the UK and Australia, lead by Professor Lin Fritschi, used a survey to discover health risks of graduates from Australian veterinary schools from 1960 to 2000.

The risks to pregnant female vets who conducted surgery and were exposed to unscavenged anaesthetic gases for more than an hour every week had the highest rate of miscarriage 2.5 times more likely than those who weren't.

Unscavenged anaesthetic gases are what is exhaled by anaesthetised animals in the operating theatre. The longer the surgery, the longer the exposure to these gases.

A simple anaesthetic consists of nitrous oxide and oxygen. It is the nitrous oxide that is of concern. Other studies have found that nitrous oxide interferes with the synthesis of folate, methionine and thiamin by vitamin B12. These components play a role in normal cell division and the production of DNA.

It is believed that this interference is the cause of higher rates of miscarriage and infertility in female health workers. Studies in 1992 involving dental assistants found that there was a relationship between exposure to high levels of unscavenged anaesthetic gas and reduced fertility. (2)

Fritschi's team reported that the use of X-rays is also linked to miscarriages. Female vets carrying out more than 5 diagnostic X-rays per week were 1.8 times more likely to miscarry than those who performed less X-rays.

X-rays are electromagnetic radiation and have been linked to cancer. X-rays pass through the body and can cause damage to cells like other forms of high energy radiation such as those emitted by the sun. This means that the more exposure you have, the greater the risk. (3)

Another, perhaps unsurprising, finding of Fritschi's research is that vets who use pesticides increased their chance of miscarriage by 1.9 times.

The research team noted that vets who graduated in the 60's and 70's were less likely to take precautions as there was much less emphasis and less knowledge about occupational health and safety issues. However, they stressed that female vets should be informed of the risks to reproductive health.


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2. Rowland AS, Baird DD, Weinberg CR, Shore DL, Shy CM, Wilcox AJ (1992). 'Reduced fertility among women employed as dental nurses exposed to high levels of nitrous oxide'. New England Journal of Medicine, 327: 993-7.

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About the author

Lynn Berry is passionate about personal development, natural health care, justice and spirituality. She has a website at

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