Radiation and Environmental Biophysics

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 325–328 | Cite as

Maternal occupational exposure to ionizing radiation and birth defects

  • Awi Wiesel
  • Claudia Spix
  • Andreas Mergenthaler
  • Annette Queißer-Luft
Short Communication


So far, only a few studies investigated occupational exposure to ionizing radiation in pregnancy to cause birth defects (BDs). No association between BDs and ionizing radiation, although described for high-dose exposure, could ever be confirmed for employees, or specific job titles. Here, an explorative analysis of a prospective population-based birth cohort used to quantify the prevalence of BDs in infants between 1/2007 and 2/2008 is presented. An active examination of all livebirths by specially trained paediatricians in two defined areas was performed. Additionally, a study-specific questionnaire distributed among all becoming mothers in the surveyed regions included questions on maternal occupational exposure to ionizing radiation within the first trimester of pregnancy. In 3,816 births (including 165 infants with BDs; 4.3%), maternal answers concerning possible exposures to medical and occupational ionizing radiation were available. Relative risk (RR) estimates in mothers surveyed for occupational exposure to ionizing radiation (wearing a radiation dosimeter) and BDs in the offspring were calculated exploratively. A higher prevalence of infants with BDs (n = 4; 13.8%) was documented in newborns of the 29 surveyed mothers compared to that in 3,787 births from unexposed mothers (n = 161; 4.3%), corresponding to a RR of 3.2 (1.2–8.7). Excluding deformations, the RR increased to 4.0 (1.5–10.7). Adjustment for possible confounders did not change the results substantially.


Occupational Exposure Ventricular Septal Defect Health Care Sector Explorative Result Estimate Risk Ratio 
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The underlying study was funded by “Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz; Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit”; Grant No. StSch. 4493. The list of all included BDs and a pdf-version of the questionnaire (in German) are available from the corresponding author.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Awi Wiesel
    • 1
  • Claudia Spix
    • 2
  • Andreas Mergenthaler
    • 2
  • Annette Queißer-Luft
    • 1
  1. 1.Birth Registry Mainz Model, Children’s HospitalUniversity Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and InformaticsUniversity Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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