Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2002;28(1):5-11    pdf


Adverse reproduction outcomes among employees working in biomedical research laboratories

by Wennborg H, Bonde JP, Stenbeck M, Olsen J

Objectives The aim of the study was to investigate reproductive outcomes such as birthweight, preterm births, and postterm births among women working in research laboratories while pregnant.

Methods Female university personnel were identified from a source cohort of Swedish laboratory employees, and the database was linked to the medical birth register. The first births of the women were included in the analysis, 249 pregnancies among the women with laboratory work and 613 pregnancies among the women without laboratory tasks. Information about exposure to various laboratory agents was obtained from a previous questionnaire investigation at the research group level according to a specific definition. The ponderal index and ratio between observed and expected birthweights were calculated. Logistic regression models were used for the analyses of dichotomous outcomes (preterm, postterm and birthweight).

Results Exposure to laboratory work with solvents was associated with an increased risk of preterm births, the estimated odds ratio (OR) being 3.4 (1.0 <95% confidence interval <11.9). An association with work with bacteria was also observed for postterm births (OR 2.7, 1.0 ≤95% confidence interval <7.4).

Conclusions There was a slightly elevated risk for some reproductive outcomes among the women working with certain laboratory tasks, specifically for preterm and postterm births in relation to work with solvents and bacteria.