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gastroschisis
neural tube defects

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SOLVENTS & 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, we asked mothers 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 hobbies-ranging from automechanics to weaving-were 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. Women had a greater risk when exposure to solvents came through hobby-related activities such as automechanics, furniture stripping and painting.
bullet Mothers exposed to colorants—pigments, metallic and organic dyes—had double the risk. (Colored wall or furniture paint, fabric dye/paint, permanent hair dye, nail polish and corroded metal all contain colorants.) Exposure came from occupations/hobbies such as cosmetology, painting, fabric dyeing and automechanics (handling corroded parts).

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NO HIGHER RISK FOR NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS

We investigated whether occupational or hobby chemical exposures increased women's risk for having neural tube defects. Women were asked about occupational tasks and hobbies performed before conception and in early pregnancy. An industrial hygienist classified responses: exposure categories included 74 chemical groups, 9 chemical classes plus organic solvents.

bullet Mothers' exposures to a variety of chemicals associated with occupational and nonoccupational activities did not contribute substantially to risk of neural tube defects.
bullet There was no risk elevation with exposure to any of the chemical groups or to organic solvents.

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Expectant mothers should be mindful about possible exposures from their activities at home and work. Even seemingly harmless hobbies may raise the risk for birth defects.



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