Nurses working in selected departments of general hospitals in Finland were collected from a central register on health personnel in Finland. Using the Hospital Discharge Register and the Register of Congenital Malformations, case nurses were selected who had had a spontaneous abortion (N = 217) or a malformed child (N = 46) between the years 1973 and 1979. Controls consisted of three nurses who had had a normal birth; the control nurses were matched for age and hospital of employment. Information on exposure in the first trimester of pregnancy was sought through the head nurses of the hospitals. No significant increase in risk of spontaneous abortion or of malformation was observed after exposure to anaesthetic gases (odds ratio for spontaneous abortion 1.2), sterilising gases and soaps, or x-rays. Handling of cytostatic drugs did not affect the frequency of spontaneous abortion but was associated with malformations in the offspring. The odds ratio, based on eight cases, was 4.7 (p = 0.02) when the logistic model was adopted. The results suggest that the exposures investigated, other than cytostatic drugs, do not cause a strong reproductive risk. Further studies are needed, particularly on cytostatic drugs.
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