University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Solvents Harmful to Unborn

Increased risk of visual impairments, study finds

Women exposed to organic solvents during pregnancy are at an increased risk of having children with visual impairments, according to a new study. Researchers compared 32 children whose mothers were exposed to organic solvents – chemicals found in paints, adhesives and cleaning agents – in their workplaces during pregnancy, with an unexposed control group of children. The solvent-exposed group had poorer vision and problems with colour vision. These results reinforce the message that women of child-bearing age should avoid exposure to organic solvents and use all available protective barriers, says lead author Christine Till, a graduate student in psychology, toxicology and neuroscience at U of T. Till worked with researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children and recruited participants through the hospital’s Motherisk Program, a consultation service that provides information about fetal risks associated with various exposures.

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