Female Vets at risk of miscarriage
from Anesthetic Gases

Female vets run twice the risk of miscarriage as a result of
exposure to anaesthetic gases. The findings prompt to call
for young female vets to be more clearly advised of the
risks they run, should they want to become pregnant. The
study is based on a survey of women taking part in the
Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians Project (HRAV).

The researchers surveyed all those graduating from
Australian veterinary schools between 1960 and 2000. Of
the 5700 graduates contacted, some 2800 responded, of
whom 1200 were women. Between them, these women
reported a total of 1355 pregnancies, 940 of which
occurred while working in clinical practice, and so were
eligible for inclusion in the study. Women carrying out
surgery and exposed to anaesthetic gases that were not
filtered out of the atmosphere, for an hour or more a week,
were almost 2.5 times more likely to miscarry.

Those who performed more than five X-rays a week were
around 80% more likely to miscarry than those performing
fewer procedures. When the researchers restricted their
analyses to those women graduating more recently—
between 1980 and 2000—the results were similar. The
researchers warn that female vets of childbearing age
“should be fully informed of the possible reproductive
effects of ionising radiation & un-scavenged anaesthetic
gases. Women vets should take protective measures when
they are planning to conceive, and during pregnancy",
they warn. But all staff working in these areas should be
aware of the risks and protect themselves accordingly,   
the reasearchers suggest.

                                                                                                 April 2008
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