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gastroschisis
heart defects
neural tube defects

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SOLVENTS AND DYES MAY PLAY A ROLE IN GASTROSCHISIS

Reduced blood supply to the developing abdominal wall is thought to cause gastroschisis, a life-threatening condition where the intestines protrude from a hole near the umbilical cord. In interviews, mothers were asked about work activities as well as hobbies during pregnancy. An industrial hygienist evaluated the exposures that might be associated with each occupation/hobby.

bullet Several hobbiesranging from automechanics to weavingwere associated with gastroschisis. All but 2 involved the use of solvents or colorants (dyes).
bullet High-level exposure to solvents raised risk by nearly 4 times; low-level exposure raised risk about 2 times.
bullet Women had a greater risk when exposure to solvents came through hobby-related activities such as automechanics, furniture stripping and painting.
bullet Secondhand exposure to solventsthrough activities of another person in the householddid not increase the risk for gastroschisis.
bullet Exposure to all classes of solvents raised risk: aromatic hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene), aliphatic hydrocarbons (propane, some aerosol propellants), glycols (ethylene glycol, antifreeze) and isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol).
bullet Mothers exposed to colorantspigments, metallic and organic dyeshad double the risk. Colored wall or furniture paints, fabric dyes/paint, permanent hair dye, nail polish and corroded metal all contain colorants.

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SANTA CLARA COUNTY WATER STUDIES

Several early Program studies looked at heart defects following discovery of drinking water contaminated with the solvents trichloroethane and dichloroethylene in Santa Clara County.

bullet A possible relationship between drinking tapwater and heart defects was noted countywide (beyond the area of known contamination). However, there were many potential sources of bias in the studyinterviews were conducted 3-7 years after birth; intense publicity about water contamination may have influenced mothers' responses.
bullet Mothers of babies with serious heart defects were more likely to have solvent exposure in the workplace, based on interview reports of occupation and job tasks.

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NO INCREASED RISK FOR NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS

We asked women about occupational or hobby chemical exposures; an industrial hygienist assessed exposure based on specific tasks. Exposure to organic solvents or 74 chemicals groups did not raise risk for having neural tube defects.

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EXPOSURE FROM HOBBIES AND WORK

Expectant mothers should use caution as they consider possible exposures from their activities at home and in the workplace. Even seemingly harmless hobbies may create exposures, which we found were common among mothers of normal infants:

bullet Solvents:10% were exposed to solvents found in a wide range of products, such as gasoline, motor oil, paint thinner, polyurethane, spray paint, aerosol sprays, nail polish remover and many cleaning products.
bullet Colorants: 16% were exposed to pigments, metallic and organic dyes. Exposure came from occupations/ hobbies such as cosmetology, painting, fabric dyeing and automechanics (handling corroded parts).

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