A study recently published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found a correlation between exposure to organic solvents at work and several types of birth defects affecting the heart.
In an article on the findings, U.S. News and World Report quotes researcher Suzanne Gilboa, an epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as saying that exposure to these solvents could increase the risk of having a baby with a heart defect by 60 percent to 70 percent.
The CDC has long associated exposure to certain chemicals with birth defects. The agency’s Website cautions women that smoking, drinking and taking “street drugs” during pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, as can medications such as isotretinoin (a drug used to treat severe acne).
A number of studies have also linked the use of antidepressants classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, by pregnant women with heart and lung defects in newborns.
According to U.S. News and World Report, organic solvents are used for dissolving or dispersing things like fats, oils and waxes, and in chemical manufacturing. They’re found in paints, varnishes, adhesives, degreasing/cleaning agents, dyes, polymers, plastic, synthetic textiles, printing inks and agricultural products.
Most of the solvents are highly volatile and can be breathed in or absorbed through the skin or mouth.
Gilboa and her team of researchers collected data on 5,000 women exposed to the solvents in their workplace early in pregnancy, and looked for associations between 15 types of congenital heart defects and exposure to the chemicals.
They found that 4 percent of women whose babies did not have birth defects, and 5 percent of those who did, were exposed to organic solvents at the time they were trying to conceive or early in pregnancy. When they accounted for these findings using other published material, they increased to 8 percent and 10 percent, respectively.
Patients should consult their doctors before making any changes in their medication. A consultation with an SSRI lawyer is also important if there are significant injuries from SSRIs.
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