Occupational hazards for pregnant or lactating women in the orthopaedic operating room

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Pregnant or lactating staff working in the orthopaedic operating room may be at risk of occupational exposure to several hazards, including blood-borne pathogens, anesthetic gases, methylmethacrylate, physical stress, and radiation. Because the use of proper personal protective equipment is mandatory, the risk of contamination with blood-borne pathogens such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV is low. Moreover, effective postexposure prophylactic regimens are available for hepatitis B and HIV. In the 1960s, concerns were raised about occupational exposure to harmful chemicals in the operating room such as anesthetic gases and methylmethacrylate. Guidelines on safe levels of exposure to these chemicals and the use of personal protective equipment have helped to minimize the risks to pregnant or lactating staff. Short periods of moderate physical activity are beneficial for pregnant women, but prolonged strenuous activity can lead to increased pregnancy complications. The risk of prenatal radiation exposure during orthopaedic procedures is of concern, as well. However, proper lead protection and contamination control can minimize the risk of occupational exposure to radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)326-332
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


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