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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(6), 6216-6230; doi:10.3390/ijerph110606216
Article

A Study of Handling Cytotoxic Drugs and Risk of Birth Defects in Offspring of Female Veterinarians

1,2,* , 2
,
1
,
1
 and
3
1 School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia 2 Department of Epidemiology, Population Sciences, Telethon Kids Institute, 100 Roberts Road, Subiaco 6008, Australia 3 School of Anatomy and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 April 2014 / Revised: 3 June 2014 / Accepted: 4 June 2014 / Published: 12 June 2014
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Abstract

We examined the association of occupational exposure to handling cytotoxic drugs at work with risk of birth defects among a cohort of female veterinarians. This study is a follow up survey of 321 female participants (633 pregnancies) who participated in the Health Risks of Australian Veterinarian project. Data on pregnancies and exposure during each pregnancy was obtained by self-administered mailed questionnaire. Female veterinarians handling cytotoxic drugs during their pregnancy had a two-fold increased risk of birth defects in their offspring (RR = 2.08, 95% CI (1.05–4.15)). Results were consistent in subgroup analysis of those who graduated during the period of 1961 to 1980 (RR = 5.04, 95% CI (1.81, 14.03) and in those working specifically in small and large animal practice. There was no increased risk in the subgroup that graduated after 1980. Women with unplanned pregnancies were more likely to handle cytotoxic drugs on a daily basis (RR = 1.86, 95% CI, 1.00–3.48) and had a higher increased risk of birth defects than those who planned their pregnancies in recent graduates and in those who worked specifically in small animal practice (RR = 2.53, 95% CI, 1.18–5.42). This study suggests that the adverse effects of handling cytotoxic drugs in pregnant women may include an increased risk of birth defects. Pregnancy intention status is an important health behavior and should be considered in prenatal programs.
Keywords: cytotoxic drugs; birth defects; female veterinarians; unplanned pregnancy; cohort study; women health cytotoxic drugs; birth defects; female veterinarians; unplanned pregnancy; cohort study; women health
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Shirangi, A.; Bower, C.; Holman, C.D.J.; Preen, D.B.; Bruce, N. A Study of Handling Cytotoxic Drugs and Risk of Birth Defects in Offspring of Female Veterinarians. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 6216-6230.

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