Spontaneous abortions in female populations occupationally exposed to ionizing radiation

Aleksandra Fucic, Domenico Franco Merlo, Marcello Ceppi, Joe N. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Exposure to radioisotopes of metals and halogen elements occurring in medical practice may cause spontaneous abortions. The potential role of occupational exposure to X-rays and internal radioisotopes on pregnancy outcome in childbearing age women employed in hospital departments were analyzed in order to estimate miscarriage risk. Methods: Over a period of 16 years, the occurrence of miscarriages in 61 women exposed to radioisotopes was compared to that reported in 170 X-ray exposed women. Chromosomal aberrations (CA) were measured in both radiation-exposed groups and in 53 non-exposed women. Results: Women exposed to radioisotopes experienced at least a threefold higher rate of spontaneous abortions than those exposed to X-ray (OR = 3.68, 95% CI = 1.39-9.74, P <0.01). Although X-ray and radioisotopes exposed women had significantly higher levels of chromosome type frequency (0.51 ± 0.82, and 0.63 ± 0.99, respectively) than referents (0.17 ± 0.34), there was no clear difference between radiation-exposed women. Conclusions: For exposure levels within standard recommended guidelines, radioisotopes are far more likely to play a role in the occurrence of spontaneous abortions than X-rays. Such biological effect is not detectable by deviations in CA frequency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-879
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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