The task of informing workers of hazards in the workplace is seldom more difficult than with the subject of reproductive and developmental hazards. Occupational health staff and physicians are faced with a paucity of relevant medical information. Workers, kept aware of the thalidomide spectre with every media report of the latest descriptive epidemiology study, are anxious to know more. Employers, knowing that few agents are regulated on the basis of reproductive hazards, are encouraged to lessen workplace exposure to all agents but need guidance from government and scientists in setting priorities. Understandable ethical and scientific limitations on human studies require researchers to study animals and cells. The difficulties of extrapolating the results of this research to humans are well known. The scientific, medical, and workplace difficulties in dealing with reproductive and developmental hazards are mirrored in the regulatory positions found in North America. Some regard fetal protection policies as sex discrimination whereas others consider such policies as reasonable. Guidelines are provided to allow employers and medical practitioners to consider this difficult problem.
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