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Birth Defects in Offspring of Female Veterinarians

Shirangi, Adeleh MPH, PhD; Fritschi, Lin MBBS, PhD; Holman, C D’Arcy J. MBBS, MPH, PhD; Bower, Carol MBBS, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: May 2009 - Volume 51 - Issue 5 - p 525-533
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181a01af3
Original Articles

Objectives: To investigate the risk of birth defects in offspring of female veterinarians exposed to occupational hazards such as radiation, anesthetic gases, and pesticides in veterinary practice.

Methods: The Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians project was conducted as a questionnaire-based survey of all graduates from Australian veterinary schools during the 40-year period 1960–2000.

Results: In a multiple logistic regression controlling for the potential confounders, the study showed an increased risk of birth defects in offspring of female veterinarians after occupational exposure to high dose of radiation (taking more than 10 x-ray films per week, odds ratio: 5.73 95% CI: 1.27 to 25.80) and an increase risk of birth defects after occupational exposure to pesticides at least once per week (odds ratio: 2.39 95% CI: 0.99 to 5.77) in veterinarians exclusively working in small animal practice.

Conclusion: Female veterinarians should be informed of the possible reproductive effects of occupational exposures to radiation and pesticides.

From the School of Population Health (Dr Shirangi, Dr Holman), Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Australia; Western Australian Institute for Medical Research (Dr Fritschi), Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, Australia; Division of Population Sciences (Dr Bower), Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, The University of Western Australia and Western Australian Birth Defects Registry, King Edward Memorial Hospital, SUBIACO, Australia.

CME Available for this Article at

Adeleh Shirangi and coauthors have no commercial interest related to this research.

Address correspondence to: Adeleh Shirangi, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College London, St Mary’s Campus, Norfolk Place, London, W2 1PG; E-mail:

©2009The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine