[Histonet] Re: pregnancy in lab


I've been working in histology since 1970.  I didn't work in a lab during 
my first two pregnancies - my oldest daughter (25) and second daughter 
(24) were biology and art majors, respectively.  I worked during my 3rd 
pregnancy (1982) in a tox research lab with no safety measures except for 
an exhaust hood for formalin trimming and xylene coverslipping.  A couple 
of the tox PhD's suggested I stay away from xylene during my pregnancy, so 
someone else coverslipped for me - I still did the staining.  That 
daughter was diagnosed with learning disabilities when she was 8 years 
old, and she continues to have problems at age 21.  While working full 
time in a lab where we only had laminar flow ventilation to draw away 
xylene and formalin fumes, my fourth pregnancy ended in a fetal demise at 
20 weeks.  I worked full time during my next pregnancy, (1984-1985).  That 
daughter has multiple minor congenital defects which include a mitral 
valve prolapse, scoliosis, a concave sternum, a small area of left 
temporal lobe atrophy, and a mandible deformity.  She also is plagued with 
learning disabilities.  Two subsequent pregnancies (1987, 1989) both 
resulted in second trimester fetal demise.  My high risk OB in Chicago 
suggested at the time (1989) that lab chemicals may be suspect in my case, 
and when it ended he said "You're not going to try this again, are you?"  
As I've heard other people state, you just never know.  I'll never know. 
There are other chemicals in the lab to consider as well as formalin and 
xylene, tho - aniline dyes, silver nitrate, mercury, uranyl nitrate, 
chloroform, toluene, to name a few.  Personally, I would recommend any 
pregnant woman stay out of the histology lab.    I wish the NSH would do a 
study on pregnancy in the histology lab, retrospective or otherwise.

Jacqueline M. O'Connor HT(ASCP)
Abbott Laboratories
Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development
Discovery Chemotheraputics

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