Female veterans with a high PFOA level in their blood are 50% more likely to experience a miscarriage
Defined as fetal death in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy, miscarriage represents a risk for 10% to 15% of pregnant women. Exposure to toxic substances increases this risk of miscarriage substantially.
Once a pregnant woman is exposed to a solvent from drinking water, for instance, the chemical will enter her bloodstream and possibly affect the fetus, eventually causing a miscarriage.
According to medical studies, the first trimester is the most critical time in fetal development when it comes to vulnerability to teratogens. It is important to mention that the father's exposure to teratogens can also increase the risk of miscarriage by increasing the levels of chromosomal abnormalities in the sperm.
The following are the solvents that were lurking in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune in dangerous concentrations until the end of the last century, which are also teratogens:
- halogenated hydrocarbons
A study from the British Journal of Industrial Medicine observed the pregnancy outcome of 71 women, 24 of whom had been exposed to organic solvents in occupational settings. Out of the participants, eight - or 33% - experienced a miscarriage, whereas only nine out of the 47 - or 19% - who had not been exposed to organic solvents had one. In another study of 155 pregnancies in women exposed to organic solvents in the workplace, the frequency of miscarriage was 18%, as opposed to only 7% in the control group.
Another study examined the miscarriage rate among women in the pharmaceutical industry. Out of the 405 pregnancies, 18% were miscarriages in those engaged in laboratory work, but only 10% were in the non-exposed workers. So, it can be concluded that women exposed to organic solvents have a significantly increased risk of miscarriage than those who were not. Teratogens affect the fetus when a pregnant woman comes in direct contact with such a substance by crossing the placenta and potentially affecting the pregnancy by causing a miscarriage.
Finally, a recent study from the medical journal Scientific Reports was able to associate exposure to PFAS with miscarriage in early pregnancy. The women who had double the amount of the chemical PFOA in their blood compared to the other participants were 50% more likely to suffer a miscarriage. A total of 2,582 pregnancies were included in the SELMA study. Interestingly, for other PFAS compounds, there were no associations with miscarriage. The researchers observed a significant association between PFOA serum levels in early pregnancy and a high risk for sporadic miscarriage during the second half of the first trimester. In the SELMA study, researchers have previously shown associations between early pregnancy PFAS exposure, including PFOS, PFOA, and PFNA, and preeclampsia and lower birth weight. The association between PFOA exposure and miscarriage is a novel one.