Having a job that requires regular handling of toxic chemicals, including pesticides and plasticizers (a chemical that makes plastic soft), may delay pregnancy and increase the risk of having a lower birth weight baby, suggests research published in the January 11, 2011, online issue of the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
To reach these findings, researchers looked at a group of 6,000 women during various stages of their pregnancy, with due dates between 2002 and 2006—the women’s average age was 30 and most reported that their pregnancies were planned. Of the 3,719 women who provided information on time to conception, 25 percent reported it took six months or more of actively trying before they became pregnant (considered a long time for women in this age group).
Of women who did go on to have a baby, one in 20 had a preterm birth, approximately 15 percent of babies weighed less than 3,000 grams at birth, and 5 percent had a low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams).
Federal law dictates that employers must tell employees about potentially harmful conditions or chemicals in the workplace, especially when it comes to any substances that may put the health of a pregnant woman and her unborn child at risk. Not sure about your job? If you have questions about how to find out more about chemicals used in your workplace and what rights you have as a woman trying to conceive, a good place to start is by contacting your local Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) office, the workers’ rights division of the Department of Labor.