Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Workgroup Report: Implementing a National Occupational Reproductive Research Agenda-Decade One and Beyond

Academic journal article Environmental Health Perspectives

Workgroup Report: Implementing a National Occupational Reproductive Research Agenda-Decade One and Beyond

Article excerpt

The initial goal of occupational reproductive health research is to effectively study the many toxicants, physical agents, and biomechanical and psychosocial stressors that may constitute reproductive hazards in the workplace. Although the main objective of occupational reproductive researchers and clinicians is to prevent recognized adverse reproductive outcomes, research has expanded to include a broader spectrum of chronic health outcomes potentially affected by reproductive toxicants. To aid in achieving these goals, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, along with its university, federal, industry, and labor colleagues, formed the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) in 1996. NORA resulted in 21 research teams, including the Reproductive Health Research Team (RHRT). In this report, we describe progress made in the last decade by the RHRT and by others in this field, including prioritizing reproductive toxicants for further study; facilitating collaboration among epidemiologists, biologists, and toxicologists; promoting quality exposure assessment in field studies and surveillance; and encouraging the design and conduct of priority occupational reproductive studies. We also describe new tools for screening reproductive toxicants and for analyzing mode of action. We recommend considering outcomes such as menopause and latent adverse effects for further study, as wall as including exposures such as shift work and nanomaterials. We describe a broad domain of scholarship activities where a cohesive system of organized and aligned work activities integrates 10 years of team efforts and provides guidance for future research. Key words: communication, environmental exposure, occupational exposure, reproduction, research design, risk factors. Environ Health Perspect 114:435-441 (2006). doi:10.1289/ehp.8458 available via http://dx.doi.org/[Online 26 October 2005]

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Data from the past decade underscore the public health relevance of studying workplace reproductive hazards. In 2003, Census data indicated that nearly 55% of children were born to working mothers (U.S. Census Bureau 2003a), and 62% of working men and women were of reproductive age (U.S. Census Bureau 2003b). The goal of occupational reproductive research is to effectively study the many toxicants, physical agents, and biomechanical and psychosocial stressors that may constitute reproductive hazards in the workplace. The difficulty of this task is compounded by several realities: the intrinsic methodologic limitations of both animal and human observational studies, the impact of mixed and multiple exposures, and complex work environments, both traditional and transitional. Although the main objective of occupational reproductive researchers and clinicians is to prevent recognized adverse reproductive outcomes, research has expanded to include a broader spectrum of health outcomes, such as breast cancer and the nature and timing of menopause and latent adverse reproductive effects.

The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) was formed in 1996, when the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and its university, federal, industry, and labor partners unveiled the agenda as a framework to guide occupational safety and health research into the next decade. Approximately 500 organizations and individuals outside NIOSH provided input into the development of the agenda. The NORA process resulted in a remarkable consensus about the top 21 research priorities, including reproductive health research. The Reproductive Health Research Team (RHRT) included individuals engaged in basic laboratory research, epidemiology, risk communication, and public health and collaborated with other NORA teams engaged in exposure assessment, control technologies, and intervention effectiveness. In this report we describe a broad domain of activities that are relevant to public health applications.

A Decade of Progress

The team's initial achievements focused on priotitizing reproductive toxicants for further research, promoting the study of high-priority toxicants, and promoting occupational exposure assessment in existing surveillance studies. …

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