OCCUPATIONAL EXPOSURE TO CHEMICALS IN PREGNANCY

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(Date of issue: July 2019, Version: 3)

This is a UKTIS monograph for use by health care professionals. For case-specific advice please contact UKTIS on 0344 892 0909. To report an exposure please download and complete a pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Summary

For the majority of chemicals used in the workplace, although there is knowledge of general toxicity, there are no robust data quantifying fetal outcomes following exposure in human pregnancy.

In most cases of chemical exposure in a pregnant woman, maternal toxicity is likely to be a major determinant of risk to the fetus. However, due to a lack of data relating to the potential teratogenicity of most chemicals, it is not possible to state that an absence of maternal toxicity excludes the possibility of adverse fetal effects.

It is therefore important to read product labels and safety data sheets before using chemicals and to use chemicals in the recommended way.

If a pregnant woman is likely to come into contact with chemicals at work, an occupational health assessment is recommended as early in pregnancy as possible.

General recommendations:

1. Exposure to chemicals should be kept to a minimum; certainly within the occupational exposure standards (OESs) and maximum exposure limits (MELs) recommended by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002.

2.  Exposure should not be associated with symptoms suggestive of toxicity.

3. The work area should be well ventilated.

4.  Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as protective clothing, masks, and gloves should be utilised if appropriate, and good working practices maintained.

5.  If maternal toxicity occurs, further exposure to the chemical should be ceased immediately and a full occupational health assessment undertaken.

6.  If toxic symptoms occur the exposed party should attend A&E and/or advice should be sought from the national poisons information service (NPIS).

7.  Where maternal toxicity has occurred, additional fetal monitoring or intervention may be indicated, taking into account the stage of pregnancy at which the exposure occurred.

Where advice is required regarding exposure during pregnancy to a specific chemical please refer to the individual UKTIS monograph if available, or contact UKTIS for more information. The full list of available monographs is at uktis.org and toxbase.org


This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on UKTIS.org.

This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to health care professionals at www.toxbase.org.

If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.

If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org or UKTIS.org to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.