"Will my work affect my pregnancy?" Resources for anticipating and answering patients' questions.
BACKGROUND: Authoritative information on occupational reproductive hazards is scarce and complex because exposure levels vary, multiple exposures may be present, and the reproductive toxicity of many agents remains unknown. For these reasons, women's health providers may find it challenging to effectively address workplace reproductive health issues with their patients who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or considering pregnancy. Reproductive epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health answered >200 public requests for occupational reproductive health information during 2009 through 2013. The most frequent occupations represented were health care (41%) and laboratory work (18%). The most common requests for exposure information concerned solvents (14%), anesthetic gases (10%), formaldehyde (7%), infectious agents in laboratories (7%) or health care settings (7%), and physical agents (14%), including ionizing radiation (6%). Information for developing workplace policies or guidelines was sought by 12% of the requestors. Occupational exposure effects on breast-feeding were an increasing concern among working women. Based on information developed in response to these requestors, information is provided for discussing workplace exposures with patients, assessing potential workplace reproductive hazards, and helping patients determine the best options for safe work in pregnancy. Appendices provide resources to address specific occupational exposures, employee groups, personal protective equipment, breast-feeding, and workplace regulations regarding work and pregnancy. These tools can help identify those most at risk of occupational reproductive hazards and improve workers' reproductive health. The information can also be used to inform research priorities and assist the development of workplace reproductive health policies.
Grajewski, B; Rocheleau, CM; Lawson, CC; Johnson, CY
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