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Are Cancer Clinics a pregnancy risk for employees?

Lately, 2 women have reported that they can relate their birth miscarriages to their job and the work environment they are employed in the chemo – cancer treatment clinics. Besides these reports, there have been several other complaints where other personnel-related their illness to the 503(b) facility they are working in.

As we see it, this is a never-ending debate about whether their involvement in the chemo clinics has to do anything with the birth miscarriages or not. No studies have presented how and when does the handling and exposure to hazardous drugs have any impact on the health of the employees that work on drugs handling on daily basis.

There are lots of claims for damages to the fertility potential by women working in chemo or hormonal clinics. Experts state that amenorrhea, skipping one or more menstrual cycles is a very sensitive topic and process, and can be related to anything but their exposure to hazards. It’s more likely that a bacteria of any kind or a generic fungal process is the culprit for amenorrhea than working in an environment that battles against them and keep the facility as aseptic they can maintain. Working in an environment that is bacteria-free lowers the risks for irregularities in the fertility potential by women and has very little to do with the ever occurring issues in the menstrual cycles.

The assessment of fertility potential after cancer therapy is challenging because fertility may be transiently impaired. Whether infertility is transient or permanent, and the duration of transient infertility, cannot be predicted reliably. Furthermore, the presence of functioning gonads does not reliably predict that pregnancy will occur.

Premenopausal women who have amenorrhea or irregular menstrual cycles should be evaluated for premature ovarian failure. The clinical manifestations are similar to those in women with spontaneous ovarian failure. However, in young women with amenorrhea after chemotherapy, diagnosis of premature ovarian failure can be problematic since ovarian dysfunction may not be permanent.

All of these issues can be somehow related to being submitted through chemotherapy but not solely by being exposed and in contact with those medicaments used for that process.

Studies show that most chemotherapy (chemo) drugs can damage a woman’s eggs or affect fertility. The effect will depend on the woman’s age, the types of drugs she gets, and the drug doses. This makes it hard to predict if a woman is likely to be fertile after chemo. Women who are treated for cancer before they are 35 have an over a 99% chance of becoming pregnant after treatment. Many chemo drugs can hurt a developing fetus, causing birth defects or other harm. Exposure, handling, and processing chemo drugs cannot cause that harm.

Chemotherapy services have expanded over recent years. Mothers remain concerned about the safety of their unborn babies while handling hazardous materials. Most chemotherapy drugs are cytotoxic. This means they may be mutagenic, carcinogenic, or teratogenic in nature. How toxic they can be during pregnancy is not absolutely clear. Therefore, handling such drugs may not be 100% safe in pregnancy.

The rapid expansion of chemotherapy services throughout the world has raised serious concerns regarding exposure by pregnant mothers to cytotoxic drugs. A safe working environment is essential for pregnant mothers. General guidelines are available, but they are not completely sufficient to protect unborn babies.  Every staff member has the responsibility for her own safety. 

Even though long-term studies are needed to evaluate the effects of low-level exposure to cytotoxic drugs by pregnant and lactating mothers, Aseptic Enclosures makes sure that our products put all the risks elaborated previously are set to a minimum level. By handling the hazardous chemicals and drugs in an insulated environment without having direct exposure or air exposure we limit the negative effects and the harm that chemo drugs can do. Our products are not only pregnancy savvy, they are also designed in order to accommodate the needs of a pregnant operator handling drugs.

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