Adverse reproductive outcomes among female veterinarians

Marc B Schenker, Steven J. Samuels, Rochelle S. Green, Patricia Wiggins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Because female veterinarians are exposed to several known reproductive hazards, the authors conducted a reproductive survey of all female graduates of a US veterinary school (n=537) and law school (comparison group, n=794). Analysis was confined to pregnancies completed after the second year of professional school and from 1966 to 1986. Based on one randomly chosen eligible pregnancy per woman (veterinarians, n=176; lawyers, n=229), spontaneous abortion rates, adjusted for elective abortions, were 13.3% for the veterinarians and 15.1% for the lawyers; these did not differ significantly. A Cox life table regression model controlling for age, smoking, alcohol use, and prior spontaneous abortion also showed no significant difference in spontaneous abortion rates between the two populations. Using all pregnancies, veterinarians who reported performing five or more radiographic examinations per week had a marginally elevated risk of spontaneous abortion, but the statistical significance disappeared when analysis was limited to one random pregnancy per woman. For one random eligible birth per woman, the mean birth weight did not differ significantly between the veterinarians and lawyers, even after controlling for possible confounders in regression analyses. A higher rate of reportable birth defects was observed among the veterinarians than among the lawyers (relative risk=4.2, 95% confidence interval 1.2-15.1), but this unexpected result must be considered hypothesis-generating. The authors did not find an overall increased risk for spontaneous abortion or low birth weight infants among veterinarians compared with lawyers, but veterinarians who reported performing five or more radiographic examinations per week may have been at increased risk for spontaneous abortion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-106
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1990


  • Abnormalities
  • Abortion
  • Abortion, induced
  • Anesthetics
  • Infant, low birth weight
  • Radiation
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Women, working

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Epidemiology


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