Risks to Pregnancy

In a major needle-stick study, one accidental self-injection of a prostaglandin compound resulted in a spontaneous abortion, heightening awareness that occupational needle sticks may also represent a serious human reproductive health hazard (7).

In a survey of 2,997 female graduates from United States veterinary colleges between 1970 and 1980, absolute and relative risks of preterm delivery (PTD) were highest for veterinarians employed in exclusively equine clinical practice. Occupational involvement with solvents among exclusively small animal practitioners was associated with the highest relative risk of PTD. Overall absolute risks of PTD and small for gestational age births among cohort members were much lower in comparison with the general female population (31).

Another study of female pregnancies concluded that veterinarians employed in all-equine practices were at highest relative risk of spontaneous abortion when compared with pregnancies reported by unemployed veterinarians. Agent-specific relative risk estimates ranged from 0.7 to 1.1, suggesting little or no excess risk. When analyses were restricted to small-animal practitioners, there was a weak association between miscarriage risk and job-related exposure to ionizing radiation (32).

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