Beware artists, photographers, landscapers and gas workers who want to be fathers: Where you work during the three months before conception could lead to health issues for your offspring.A new study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has linked certain jobs to a higher risk of certain birth defects. It used data from the US National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which is used to study a range of potential risk factors for major birth defects.
The study researchers obtained the job histories of about 1,000 dads with children with one or more birth defect born between 1997 and 2004, and the job histories of 4,000 fathers of children without birth defects. They classified the father’s jobs into 63 groups, based on what kinds of chemicals and potential hazards they may be exposed to on the job.
They focused on where the fathers were working for the three months before conception, and during the first month of their partner’s pregnancy: Times when the father’s sperm is most likely to be damaged by environmental exposures.
But certain types of jobs seemed to be associated with an increased risk of having a child with a birth defect in three or more categories.
These included: mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists; artists; photographers and photo processors; food service workers; landscapers and groundsmen; hairdressers and make-up artists; office and admin support workers; office and admin support workers; sawmill operatives; those working with petrol and gas; those working in chemical industries; printers; those operating cranes and diggers; and drivers.
Jobs associated with specific types of defect included artists (mouth, eyes and ears, gut, limbs, and heart); photographer and photo processors (cataracts, glaucoma, absence of or insufficient eye tissue); drivers (absence of or insufficient eye tissue, glaucoma); landscapers and groundsmen (gut abnormalities).
Luckily, a third of the job types weren’t associated with any birth defects at all. Those jobs include architects and designers; healthcare professionals; dentists; firefighters; fishermen; car assembly workers; entertainers; smelters and foundry workers; stonemasons and glass blowers/cutters; painters; train drivers/maintenance engineers; soldiers; commercial divers.
The authors didn’t look at any specific exposures that could be damaging the father’s sperm.
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