Q&A: I experienced an electric shock early in my pregnancy. Should I be worried?
I am currently 10 weeks pregnant. About a week ago, I was accidentally shocked by our electric fence. The fence has very low voltage and it really didn't hurt much. I immediately called the doctor’s office; the nurse consulted my doctor who said that as long as I hadn't fainted, gotten a headache, or begun spotting, everything was most likely fine. Even so, I have been worrying myself sick about it. Do you think everything is OK? Should I request any tests at my next OB visit?
This is an interesting question. The risk of shock from an electric fence is proportional to the voltage. Electric fence voltage varies from low (like yours) to lethal (which may be used in high-security areas). Of course you were right to call your OB’s office right away. Assessment of risk has to do with the voltage, the duration of exposure, whether you lost consciousness or fell, and how you are feeling. In higher voltage exposure they usually have you come to the hospital for monitoring.
The fact that it didn’t hurt much supports the advice you received that the voltage was low and not risky. While there are reports of moms who received electric shocks from lightening and from household appliances who actually went on to lose the pregnancy, the largest series of electrocuted moms collected by the Motherisk program in Toronto showed mostly good outcomes. And this was likely much higher voltage than your exposure! So I agree with your OB’s office—in your case, this doesn’t sound worrisome.
Information on this and many other potentially toxic exposures in pregnancy can be found on the excellent website from the Motherisk research group, www.motherisk.org.