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Women vets at risk of miscarriage

Female vets who are pregnant are twice as likely to suffer from miscarriages due to their increased exposure to anaesthetic gases, radiation and pesticides, research has claimed.

It suggests that women wishing to enter the profession should be warned of the risks.

The study, part of the Health Risks of Australian Veterinarians Project (HRAV), was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

The results show about a two-and-a-half times increased risk of miscarriage in women exposed to anaesthetic gases for more than an hour a week.

Vets who perform more than five X-rays per week also have about an 80% increased risk of miscarriage compared with those who perform five or less.

Women who use pesticides at work also have about twice the risk of miscarriage.

The authors, led by Dr Adeleh Shirangi who now works at Imperial College London, concluded: "Female veterinarians, particularly those of childbearing age, should be fully informed of the possible reproductive effects of unscavenged anaesthetic gases, ionising radiation and pesticide exposure and reduce their exposure by using protective devices when they are planning to become pregnant and during pregnancy."

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Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine