Ethylene glycol ethers and risks of spontaneous abortion and subfertility

Adolfo Correa, Ronald H. Gray, Rebecca Cohen, Nathaniel Rothman, Faridah Shah, Hui Seacat, Morton Corn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Potential reproductive effects from occupational exposures to ethylene glycol ethers (EGE) are of concern since these organic solvents have been used widely in industry, and their reproductive toxicity has been well documented in animal studies. For determination of whether occupational exposure to EGE was associated with increased risks of spontaneous abortion and subfertility (i.e., taking more than 1 year of unprotected intercourse to conceive), a retrospective cohort study was conducted among workers at two semiconductor manufacturing plants in the eastern United States in 1980-1989 as part of a larger evaluation of reproductive health. Reproductive and occupational histories were obtained from interviews of semiconductor manufacturing workers and spouses. Assessment of potential exposure to mixtures containing EGE (none, low, medium, and high) was based on reported processes and company records. There were 1,150 pregnancies to semiconductor manufacturers, 561 to female employees and 589 to wives of male employees. Among female manufacturers, potential exposure to mixtures containing EGE was associated with increased risks of spontaneous abortion (relative risk in the high exposure group = 2.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4-5.6) and subfertility (odds ratio in the high exposure group = 4.6; 95% CI 1.6-13.3). Both of these risks exhibited a dose-response relation with potential EGE exposure (p for trend = 0.02). Among spouses of male manufacturers potentially exposed to mixtures containing EGE, there was no increased risk of spontaneous abortion, but there was a nonsignificant increased risk of subfertility (odds ratio in the high exposure group = 1.7; 95% CI 0.7-4.3).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-717
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Volume143
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 1996

Keywords

  • ethylene glycols
  • occupational exposure
  • reproduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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