Introduction: To investigate possible associations between miscarriage and occupational exposures in the Shanghai textile industry.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study of miscarriages among 1752 women in the Shanghai textile industry was conducted. Reproductive history was self-reported by women and occupational work histories were collected from factory personnel records. Occupational exposures were assigned by linking work history information to an industry-specific job-exposure matrix informed by factory-specific textile process information and industrial hygiene assessments. Estimates of cotton dust and endotoxin exposure were also assigned. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% CI were estimated by multivariate logistic regression, with adjustment for age at pregnancy, educational level, smoking status of the woman and her spouse, use of alcohol, and woman’s year of birth.
Results: An elevation in risk of a spontaneously aborted first pregnancy was associated with exposure to synthetic fibres (OR 1.89, 95% CI 1.20 to 3.00) and mixed synthetic and natural fibres (OR 3.31, 95% CI 1.30 to 8.42). No increased risks were observed for women working with solvents, nor were significant associations observed with quantitative cotton dust or endotoxin exposures. Associations were robust and similar when all pregnancies in a woman’s reproductive history were considered.
Conclusions: Occupational exposure to synthetic fibres may cause miscarriages, and this possibility should be the subject of further investigation.
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Funding: This research was supported by grants R01 CA80180 from the US National Cancer Institute, R01 OH008149 from the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and by training grant T32ES07262 from the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Competing interests: None.
All procedures in this study were approved by the relevant institutional review boards of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Seattle, USA) and the Shanghai Textile Industry Bureau (Shanghai, China).
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