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Maternal occupational exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and small for gestational age offspring

Abstract

Objectives While some of the highest maternal exposures to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) occur in the workplace, there is only one previous study of occupational PAH exposure and adverse pregnancy outcomes. We sought to extend this literature using interview data combined with detailed exposure assessment.

Methods Data for 1997–2002 were analysed from mothers of infants without major birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, a large population-based case-control study in the USA. Maternal telephone interviews yielded information on jobs held in the month before conception through delivery. From 6252 eligible control mothers, 2803 completed the interview, had a job, met other selection criteria, and were included in the analysis. Two industrial hygienists independently assessed occupational exposure to PAHs from the interview and reviewed results with a third to reach consensus. Small for gestational age (SGA) was the only adverse pregnancy outcome with enough exposed cases to yield meaningful results. Logistic regression estimated crude and adjusted ORs.

Results Of the 2803 mothers, 221 (7.9%) had infants who were SGA. Occupational PAH exposure was found for 17 (7.7%) of the mothers with SGA offspring and 102 (4.0%) of the remaining mothers. Almost half the jobs with exposure were related to food preparation and serving. After adjustment for maternal age, there was a significant association of occupational exposure with SGA (OR=2.2, 95% CI 1.3 to 3.8).

Conclusions Maternal occupational exposure to PAHs was found to be associated with increased risk of SGA offspring.

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