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Epidemiology. 1995 Jan;6(1):23-30.

Agricultural work during pregnancy and selected structural malformations in Finland.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki.


We studied the relation between birth defects and maternal agricultural work in a nationwide time- and area-matched case-referent series of 1,306 pairs of infants (581 orofacial clefts, 365 central nervous system defects, 360 skeletal defects) obtained through the Finnish Register of Congenital Malformations. We supplemented the Register data, including the mothers' latest and previous pregnancies, diseases, consumption of drugs and alcohol, smoking habits, and the like, with detailed interviews on the mothers' work conditions. When all of the birth defects were pooled and agricultural work was compared with nonagricultural work in the first trimester of pregnancy, the adjusted odds ratio was 1.4 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.9-2.0]. For orofacial clefts, the corresponding odds ratio was 1.9 (95% CI = 1.1-3.5). An industrial hygienist's blinded assessment indicated that seven mothers of infants with orofacial clefts and three reference mothers had been exposed to pesticides in agricultural work; the adjusted odds ratio for work with pesticide exposure, when compared with unexposed agricultural work, was 1.9 (95% CI = 0.4-8.3). Exposure to solvents did not explain the observed association.

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