To examine the relation between adverse pregnancy outcomes and work in cosmetology during pregnancy, we conducted a mail survey in North Carolina among 8,356 licensed female cosmetologists 22-36 years of age. We identified pregnancies between 1983 and 1988 by a brief screening questionnaire, followed by a more detailed mail questionnaire. Seventy-four per cent of eligible cosmetologists responded to each inquiry. We restricted the main analysis to 96 cosmetologists with a spontaneous abortion and 547 cosmetologists with a single live-birth who worked full-time in cosmetology or in other jobs during the first trimester of pregnancy. With adjusted odds ratios ranging from 1.4 to 2.0, we found associations between spontaneous abortion and the number of hours worked per day in cosmetology, the number of chemical services performed per week, the use of formaldehyde-based disinfectants, and work in salons where nail sculpturing was performed by other employees. We found no important associations among full-time cosmetologists who performed few chemical services and among cosmetologists who worked less than 35 hours per week.
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