Your Job and Birth Defects

by Lori Sciame December 4th, 2014 | Health Observance, Men's Health
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man child hands (1380x1379)Current research shows that women aren’t the only ones who need to be concerned about having a healthy pregnancy.  Several major studies prove that men should be proactive with their health when deciding to start a family as well.  For instance, a man needs to develop healthy eating habits and steer clear of all drugs and alcohol BEFORE fathering a child.

However, information provided by the North Carolina Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention suggests a man must do even more to ensure a healthy birth outcome.  This is because research by this team of professionals implicates a man’s occupation as one potential cause of birth defects.

This study is striking, as it isn’t the jobs that one would think that cause harm to babies; it’s jobs that people assume pose no risk at all.  As stated by Bonnie Rochman in a 2012 Healthland.time.com article, men who work as “…mathematicians, office workers and artists…” have the greatest risk of having a child born with a defect.

This comes as surprising news.  Typically, people assume that men exposed to toxic fumes, such as painters, would be at greater risk.  Yet, these jobs do not seem to affect the health of the child in a negative way.

As Rochman explains, “the study, published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, relied on data from the U.S. National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which is exploring a wide range of potential risk factors for major birth defects. Researchers looked at the job histories of about 5,000 fathers — nearly 1,000 dads who had a child with one or more congenital abnormalities born between 1997 and 2004 and more than 4,000 dads whose kids did not have birth defects.”

The authors of the study expressed a word of caution. In effect, they do not expect men who work in these professions to quit their jobs to ensure a safe pregnancy. They do propose, however,  that a man should always avoid any toxic exposures while at work.

In contrast, men who work in the following occupations do not seem to experience an increased risk of having a child born with a birth defect:  architects and designers; health-care professionals; dentists; firefighters; fishermen; car assembly workers; entertainers; smelters and foundry workers; stonemasons and glass blowers/cutters; painters; train drivers/maintenance engineers; soldiers; commercial divers.

As this post suggests, many complex factors determine whether a man will have a completely healthy child or a child with one or more birth defects.  My best advice?  Keep reading and researching about ways to have the healthiest baby possible.  Also, make a vow to support your partner in her quest to be healthy. Finally, find a physician that you feel comfortable with, one that will assist you to devise a pregnancy plan.  If you take these proactive steps, your odds of having a healthy baby will increase significantly.

To read the entire article, “What Does Dad’s Job Have to do with Baby’s Birth Defects?”click here.

(Photo courtesy of Helmut Gevert)

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.