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Women Veterinarians Face Higher Miscarriage Risk
Date:4/3/2008

rs behind the new research found anesthetic gas exposure during surgeries in 92 percent of small-animal practices and 42 percent of large-animal practices. Twenty-two percent of women veterinarians in small practices and 34 percent of women in mixed practices (both large and small animals) did not have anesthetic gas scavengers, which trap and remove extra gases.

Exposure to pesticides was seen in 54 percent of mixed-animal practices, 47 percent of small-animal practices and 17 percent of large-animal practices, the researchers said.

Exposure to X-rays was found in 90 percent of small- and mixed-animal practices, compared with 37 percent of large-animal practices. Fifty-six percent of women vets reported having to physically restrain animals while taking X-rays, while only one in five used film holders and lead screens to protect themselves.

For the new study, Shirangi and her colleagues looked at women participating in the Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians study. All people who had graduated from Australian veterinary schools from 1960 to 2000 were sent questionnaires. Only women who were pregnant or became pregnant while employed and were working only in a clinical practice were analyzed. Of 1,355 pregnancies, 940 were included in the final analysis.

The researchers found an almost 2.5-fold increase in the risk of miscarriage in women exposed to unscavenged anesthetic gases (those not filtered out) for more than one hour a week.

Female veterinarians who reported performing more than five X-rays a week had almost double the risk of miscarriage, as did those who used pesticides.

According to Shirangi, the same chemicals are used in veterinary offices around the world.

There appeared to be no link between number of hours worked and miscarriage, although the study authors aren't ruling out such an association.

"Properly ventilating the workplace (using scavenging systems), minim
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