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VDTs and Miscarriages: New NIOSH Study Finds Machines Are Not to Blame

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

VDTs and Miscarriages: New NIOSH Study Finds Machines Are Not to Blame

Article excerpt

VDTs and miscarriages New NIOSH study finds machines are not to blame

A recently released government study has found no significant difference in miscarriage rates between groups of women who spend much or all of their work time at video display terminals and women who do not.

Published last week, the study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health considered almost 900 pregnancies that were about evenly divided between VDT users and non-users, whose respective miscarriage rates were 15% and 16%.

Concern for the health of VDT operaters has been associated with the ergonomics of VDT use, the effects, if any, from the non-ionizing radiation from the terminals and, more recently, with possible physiological effects from extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields surrounding VDTs and other electrical devices and circuits (exposure to which can be mitigated by distance but not entirely shielded).

The NIOSH study and another now under way by researchers at New York City's Mount Sinai School of Medicine were undertaken in response to reports in the last decade of clusters of miscarriages among women who spend much or most of their time at work using VDTs.

In the late 1980s, a California study by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program statistically correlated miscarriages and VDT use among some workers, and staffers at two USA Today newsrooms experienced what seemed an unusually high number of miscarriages over a two-year period. On both floors, most reports came from staffers working on the side of the building then being renovated.

The original objective of the California study had not been to study a possible relationship of VDT use and miscarriages. Its link of a high miscarriage rate to some young VDT users did not isolate possibly contributing life-style and workplace factors, and further investigation was urged.

When asked in by USA Today, NIOSH eliminated air quality, VDT use and other work-related factors, as well as lead present in the building's drinking water, as causes for 15 spontaneous. abortions. By February 1989, Gannett Co. said that of 36 pregnancies at USA Today, 14 miscarried, 11 went to term and 11 were proceeding normally. Four months later, Gannett Co. said no more unusual numbers of miscarriages were being reported. …

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