Hospital Chemical Exposure May Cause Nurses to Miscarry: Study

Nurses who work with certain hospital chemicals may face double the risk of suffering a spontaneous abortion, according to the findings of a new study. 

About 20% of nurses who handle chemotherapy drugs or sterilization drugs suffer a miscarriage, as well as those who give patients X-rays, reported researchers from the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH).

In the largest study of its kind, researchers surveyed about 7,500 nurses who were pregnant between 1993 and 2002, and interviewed them on hospital chemical exposures.

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According to the findings reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the scientists found that those nurses who did not handle chemotherapy or sterility drugs suffered miscarriages at a rate of about 10% before the first 20 weeks. However, that rate doubled for nurses who handed antineoplastic drugs, which are designed to stop rapid cell proliferation, before the 12th week. It also doubled when they were exposed to sterilizing agents.

Researchers said the findings, although they do not prove causality, suggest that workplace exposure to certain chemicals may cause spontaneous abortions. They point out that chemotherapy drugs are specifically designed to target rapidly dividing cells and could target the developing cells of a fetus in the same fashion as they would target aggressive cancer cells.

The researchers said that hospitals need to do more to protect nurses from chemical exposure in hospitals, particularly during their first trimester.

In May 2011, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a report warning health care workers to take efforts to reduce or eliminate exposure to chemotherapy drugs as much as possible due to the risk that they could damage health cells.

In addition to the risk of miscarriage, the CDC warns that exposure could cause liver damage, kidney damage, bone marrow problems could injure the heart and lungs, cause hearing loss, infertility and cancer.

1 Comments

  • SuzanneDecember 7, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I was an oncology nurse from 1981 to 1989 and frequently handled and mixed chemo without proper protection required . I have had several miscarriages in the 1990s and chronic skin cancers for over 25 years which require surgical removal and subsequent missed work. After being exposed to chemo directly for all of these years.. I am concerned that this exposure caused me to suffer frm these health i[Show More]I was an oncology nurse from 1981 to 1989 and frequently handled and mixed chemo without proper protection required . I have had several miscarriages in the 1990s and chronic skin cancers for over 25 years which require surgical removal and subsequent missed work. After being exposed to chemo directly for all of these years.. I am concerned that this exposure caused me to suffer frm these health issues .

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