Chemical Exposure and Miscarriage

Topic Overview

Exposure to certain chemicals on a regular basis during pregnancy has been linked to increased rates of miscarriage.

Chemicals that may increase a woman's chance of having a miscarriage include:

  • Medicines. Before conceiving, or as soon as you become aware that you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about all of the medicines you have been taking. For example, the use of the medicine isotretinoin for the treatment of acne during pregnancy has been shown to increase the risk of miscarriage and to cause birth defects.1, 2
  • Tetrachloroethylene (used in dry cleaning).1
  • Arsenic, lead, formaldehyde, benzene, and ethylene oxide.3
  • Alcohol consumption, which can also cause birth defects and intellectual disabilities. There is no known safe amount of alcohol intake during pregnancy. The safest course is to avoid alcohol entirely while you are pregnant.
  • Cocaine.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Fritz MA, Speroff L (2011). Recurrent early pregnancy loss. In Clinical Gynecologic Endocrinology and Infertility, 8th ed., pp. 1191–1220. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  2. Briggs GG, et al. (2011). Isotretinoin. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation, 9th ed., pp. 777–779. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  3. Cunningham FG, et al. (2010). Abortion. In Williams Obstetrics, 23rd ed., pp. 215–237. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Femi Olatunbosun, MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Last Revised February 1, 2013

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