Men who huff paint or gas all day while on the job should probably be extra cautious about what they're exposing their precious sperm to, especially in the three months leading up to any potential baby-making ritual. A new study has found that fathers who work in certain sperm-jeopardizing fields have a higher risk of passing on birth defects to their children.
The study, published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has linked occupations such as artist, photographer, landscaper and gas work to an increased risk of birth defects using data gathered from the U.S. National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Researchers obtained job histories from 1,000 dads with kids born with birth defects between 1997 and 2004, as well as job histories of 4,000 dads who had kids without any birth defects. They then classified fathers' jobs into 63 groups based on the chemicals or other potential hazards those men would be exposed to on the job, focusing on where fathers worked during the three months prior to conception.
According to the study's press release, fathers working in any of the following occupations were exposing their future progeny to increased risk of birth defects:
mathematicians, physicists, computer scientists; artists; photographers and photo processors; food service workers; landscapers and groundsmen; hairdressers and make-up artists; office and admin support workers; sawmill operatives; those working with petrol and gas; those working in chemical industries; printers; those operating cranes and diggers; and drivers.
While some of those jobs do seem to be total sperm zappers, others (read: office and admin. support works) seem really surprising, considering the fact that people cooped up in a cubicle all day don't seem to be exposed to any harmful materials other than whatever radiation a computer screen emits when someone is using it to play Galaga. Some jobs were associated with specific birth defects: artist risked imparting defects of the mouth, eyes, ears, gut, limbs, and heart; photographers, photo processors, and drivers risked defects like cataracts, glaucoma, and absent or inefficient eye tissue; and landscapers risked gut abnormalities.
Dad jobs that didn't indicate any risk of birth defects included professions that are just dangerous to the father himself, such as soldier, firefighter, commercial diver, and smelters (architects, dentists, and car assembly workers also made the safe list). Researchers didn't look at any specific exposure levels at which a father's sperm would start to carry higher risks of imparting birth defects, so all those expecting fathers who are locked in dark rooms all the time or who are riding around all day on a chariot lawnmower should probably err on the side of caution and take a long vacation, maybe to Disney World just to get used to the inarticulate 5:00 AM wake-up calls from Donald Duck warning them that if they don't get out of bed soon, they'll have to wait in the Space Mountain line for at least three hours.
Potential Dads Beware: Some Careers Linked To Birth Defects [Business Insider]
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