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Occupational hazards and pregnancy in orthopaedics: female surgeons are at increased risk of infertility and pregnancy complications.

Female surgeons have increased rates of infertility and pregnancy complications compared to the general population. Reported infertility rates in surgeons are 32% compared to 10.9% in the general population. Reported pregnancy complication rates in surgeons range from 25% to 35%. In the orthopaedic operating theatre occupational hazards that have an effect on pregnancy outcomes include radiation, exposure to methyl methacrylate in bone cement, surgical smoke, sharps injuries, exposure to anaesthetic waste gases and the effects of the physical demands of surgery including prolonged work hours and night shift work. Outside the operating theatre exposure to nitrous oxide, formaldehyde, surgical scrub also have evidence of negative pregnancy outcomes. This review summarizes the available evidence as it relates to specific occupational hazards that face health workers in an orthopaedic operating theatre. This information, while targeted at orthopaedic health workers, is also relevant to anaesthetists, radiographers, nursing staff, medical device company representatives and female surgeons in other specialties.

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