Who knew? A recent study done by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that certain jobs held by men in the months before they conceive a child might increase the risk of birth defects.
Researchers analyzed information from more than 14,000 fathers. They then classified the jobs into 63 groups based on the father’s estimated exposure to chemicals or other potential hazards. Then the study examined the link between these jobs and more than 60 birth defects in children. Startling, right?
So, for as long as I can remember, as long as I have been a mother or even thought about having kids, when we think of infertility, fetal mortality rates, or birth defects, we always think something went wrong in utero. Therefore, something must have gone wrong with the mother or while the baby was growing inside the mother or she was essentially defective in her reproduction parts from the start. We think that the mother must have dropped the ball in some way. I’m not saying we blame the mother, I am just saying that as mothers we feel responsible. We assume that there is something wrong with us. But that might not be the case, at all.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I worked in a pharmacy handling drugs directly. As soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I immediately began to wear latex gloves whenever I handled the drugs because there are certain drugs that are absorbed through the skin and can cause a spectrum of birth defects. I knew this before I ever got pregnant. The entire time I worked there while pregnant, I kept having nightmares of little flipper babies brought on by accidentally handling thalidomide. In the end, I quit my job because I couldn’t bear the thought that if I miscarried or there was a birth defect, I would surely blame myself because I had made the choice to continue to handle the drugs. Gloves or not, I couldn’t take that chance.
Did my husband ever consider quitting his job? No, of course not, because he never even thought that what he did had anything to do with what was going on with our baby that I was carrying or the baby that we might conceive. I didn’t. I never considered that his job could be cause for infertility, miscarriage, and birth defects. But it can be. This recent study shows us there are certain jobs that the fathers of our children hold that can be cause for alarm leading to infertility, miscarriage, and a plethora of birth defects.
Would you reconsider marrying or having children with a man that held a position that had a high rate of causing birth defects?
Image via Billaday/Flickr