This investigation was conducted to test the hypothesis that exposure of pregnant women to chemicals increases the risk of spontaneous abortion. The chemical risk factors under study to which dental assistants, factory workers, painters, and gardening workers were exposed were nitrous oxide, inorganic mercury, organic solvents, and pesticides. The study was carried out within the Danish county of Funen. It included all dental assistants employed in private or public dentistry. A comparable reference group was made up by employees less exposed to chemicals. Further study groups included all women painters within the county, women factory workers from selected factories, and about 50% of the women gardening workers within the county. Shop assistants and packers formed their control group. Information was obtained through a postal questionnaire study in May 1980 and from hospital records. Only among factory workers and painters was the odds ratio of spontaneous abortion found to be significantly increased. Neither among these women nor among dental assistants and gardening workers, however, was the reported exposure to any single chemical during pregnancy associated with a significantly increased odds ratio of spontaneous abortion.
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