Certain Jobs Dads Do Linked to Higher Risk of Birth Defects
Jul 24, 2012 - 11:42:34 AM
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Historically, women have been the focus of attention when it comes to prenatal care—but now researchers are taking a look at fathers-to-be. In a new study published this week in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that certain jobs held by men before they conceive a child may increase the risk of various birth defects.
The study, led by Tania Desrosiers, Ph.D., M.P.H, of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, is based on data from the ongoing U.S. National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which is investigating a range of potential risk factors for major birth defects in the largest population-based study of birth defects in the United States.
“The causes of most birth defects continue to elude researchers, yet birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality and developmental disabilities in the U.S.,” said Desrosiers. “We could stand to pay more attention to potential risk factors among fathers-to-be.”
Previous research has linked certain jobs to a general increase in the risk of birth defects, but this is the most extensive study to date that looks at this number of jobs and this number of birth defects, and parses apart which jobs are linked to specific defects.
Desrosiers and her team obtained the job histories of about 10,000 fathers with children with one or more birth defects born between 1997 and 2004, and the job histories of 4,000 fathers of children without birth defects. They then classified the fathers’ jobs into 63 groups, based on what kinds of chemical and potential hazards they may be exposed to on the job. The study only looked at the fathers’ job three months before conception and the first month of pregnancy, which is considered a critical period for susceptibility to damage passed on in the father’s sperm.
The results show that almost one-third of jobs were not linked with a higher risk of birth defects in infants. These jobs included healthcare professionals, dentists, firefighters, architects and designers, car assembly workers, fishermen, entertainers, smelters and foundry workers, stonemasons and glass blowers, painters, train drivers and maintenance engineers, soldiers, and commercial divers.
However, certain jobs seemed to be associated with specific types of defects. Mouth, eyes and ears, gut, limbs, and heart abnormalities were associated with artists; whereas cataracts, glaucoma, and the absence of or insufficient eye tissue were associated with photographers and photo processors. Glaucoma and insufficient eye tissue were also associated with drivers, while gut abnormalities were linked to jobs such as landscaping and grounds work.
“Our findings imply that risk factors among fathers-to-be may play a significant role in their unborn child’s health,” said Desrosiers. “However, we do not advise men to change their jobs based on results from our study. More research needs to be conducted to understand why certain jobs seem to be associated with elevated risk.”
Media note: Tania Desrosiers can be reached at email@example.com.
Link to study: http://oem.bmj.com/content/early/2012/06/11/oemed-2011-100372.full
For advertising and promotion on HealthNewsDigest.com please contact Mike McCurdy: tvmike13@HealthNewsDigest.com or 877-634-9180
HealthNewsDigest.com is syndicated worldwide, to thousands of journalists in all media, and health-related websites. www.HealthNewsDigest.com
© Copyright by HealthNewsDigest.com