Dorrit Hjortebjerg, Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen, Ester Garne, Ole Raaschou-Nielsen and Mette Sørensen
Occupational exposure to organic solvents during the 1st trimester of pregnancy has been associated with congenital anomalies. Organic solvents are also used in the home environments in paint products, but no study has investigated the effect of such exposure in a general population.
We studied associations between residential exposure to paint fumes during the 1st trimester of pregnancy and predefined subgroups of congenital anomalies, using data from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC). During 2001 and 2003, a total of 20 103 pregnant women, enrolled in the DNBC, were interviewed in the 30th week of gestation about the use of paint in their residence during pregnancy. By the end of first trimester, information about smoking habits, alcohol consumption and occupation were collected. Information on congenital anomalies was obtained from national registers. Associations were examined by estimating odds ratios (OR) using logistic regression.
In total 1404 women (7 %) had been exposed to paint fumes during the 1st trimester of pregnancy and 1086 children were diagnosed with congenital anomalies; 73 children with congenital anomalies had been exposed to paint fumes in utero. Exposure to paint fumes seemed positively associated with congenital anomalies of the nervous system (OR 2.19, 95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.76 to 6.32), ear, face and neck (OR 2.15, 95 % CI 0.84 to 5.55) and the renal system (OR 2.16, 95 % CI 1.02 to 4.58) after adjustment for maternal age, smoking, alcohol consumption and occupational solvent exposure. Congenital anomalies in the remaining subgroups were not associated with the exposure.
Our results suggest that in the general population, exposure to paint fumes during the 1st trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk of some types of congenital anomalies, but the findings need to be confirmed.