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Study highlights risks faced by pregnant veterinarians


Find out why pregnant veterinarians are at heightened risk of preterm delivery.


-- Pregnant veterinarians are at greater risk of preterm delivery than other women because of long work hours and anesthesia exposure, according to a new study.

Nearly 400 female veterinarians were involved in the study, conducted by Dr. Adelah Shirangi of Imperial College London in the United Kingdom.

The women most at risk are those who are exposed to "unscavenged" anesthesia gas, the study says. "Scavenging systems help clear excess anesthesia gas from the operating room, and Shirangi says women exposed to unscavenged operating rooms for at least one hour per week were two to three times more likely to deliver prematurely.

Pregnant veterinarians who worked more than 45 hours per week were four times more likely to have a premature birth than those who worked shorter weeks, Shirangi adds.

Trimming hours and working in properly ventilated areas are important precautionary steps, according to the study, published in the May 2009 edition of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Shriangi says the link between unventilated anesthesia gas and preterm delivery is a new finding that also could apply to pregnant women in other medical fields. Long work hours were previously linked to preterm delivery by women in other medical fields.

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