Background: Information on the reproductive effects of chemical exposures in dental work is sparse or inconsistent.
Aim: To investigate whether dental workers exposed to acrylate compounds, mercury amalgam, solvents or disinfectants are at an increased risk of miscarriage.
Methods: The study was conducted among women dental workers and a comparison group of workers occupationally unexposed to dental restorative materials. Information on pregnancies was obtained from national registers and outpatient units of hospitals. Data on occupational exposure were obtained using postal questionnaires. The final study population included 222 cases of miscarriage and 498 controls (births). An occupational hygienist assessed exposure to acrylate compounds, disinfectants and solvents. Exposure to other agents was assessed on the basis of the questionnaire data. Odds ratios (ORs) and confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using conditional logistic regression.
Results: The ORs adjusted for confounding factors were increased for moderate-exposure and high-exposure categories of mercury amalgam (OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.0 to 4.1 and OR 1.3, 95% CI 0.6 to 2.5, respectively). The risk was slightly increased for the highest-exposure category of 2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate (OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.7 to 2.6) and polymethylmethacrylate dust (OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8 to 2.4). A slightly increased risk was also detected for likely exposure to organic solvents (OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8 to 2.3) and disinfectants (OR 1.5, 95% CI 0.9 to 2.7).
Conclusions: No strong association or consistent dose–response relationship was observed between exposure to chemical agents in dental work and the risk of miscarriage. A slightly increased risk was found for exposure to mercury amalgam, some acrylate compounds, solvents and disinfectants. These findings indicate that the possibility of a weak association between exposure to these agents and an increased risk of miscarriage cannot be excluded.
- HEMA, 2-hydroxyethylmethacrylate
- MMA, methyl methacrylate
- PMMA, polymethylmethacrylate
- TEGDMA, triethyleneglycol dimethacrylate
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Published Online First 19 October 2006
Funding: The study was financially supported by the Finnish Work Environment Fund.
Competing interests: None.