Parental Exposure

Several studies have examined potential associations between maternal and paternal exposure to solvents and pregnancy outcomes other than spontaneous abortion, including low birthweight and stillbirth. The results have been inconsistent. Ahlborg and colleagues (1989) reported that solvent exposure was not associated with any late-pregnancy outcomes. In a prospective study, Chen and colleagues (2000) found an association between low birthweight and benzene exposure, which was intensified when benzene was combined with work stress.

Goulet and Theriault (1991) conducted a study of stillbirth (n=227) that included detailed exposure assessment. They reported no association between stillbirth and solvent exposure.

A study of parental occupational exposure reported a weak association between paternal solvent exposure and small-for-gestational-age infants (Savitz et al., 1989b).

Summary and Conclusion

Only a few studies have examined the potential for an association between preconception exposure to solvents among males and spontaneous abortion, and their results have been inconsistent (Table 8.4). Although there were many studies of the effects of maternal solvent exposure during pregnancy, no studies were found that specifically assessed preconception exposure among females and spontaneous abortion. The question of the potential for persistent effects of solvent exposure (after cessation of that exposure) on subsequent pregnancies has not been adequately examined. The body of evidence on other pregnancy outcomes (such as small-for-gestational-age infants and stillbirth) is also inconsistent.

The committee concludes, from its assessment of the epidemiologic literature, that there is inadequate/insufficient evidence to determine whether an association exists between maternal or paternal preconception exposure to specific organic solvents under review or solvent mixtures and spontaneous abortion or other adverse pregnancy outcomes.

TABLE 8.4 Selected Epidemiologic Studies: Spontaneous Abortion and Paternal Exposure to Organic Solvents



Exposed Cases

Estimated Relative Risk (95% CI)

Lindbohm et al., 1991

Men in Finland


Solvents, petroleum refineries


2.2 (1.3–3.8)


Solvents, manufacture of rubber products


1.9 (1.2–2.8)




1.5 (0.4–5.0)


Benzene (low level exposure)


1.0 (0.7–1.3)




0.9 (0.3–2.1)




0.7 (0.2–2.4)

Taskinen et al., 1989

Men in Finland


Organic solvents



Low or rare exposure


2.8 (1.0–7.9)


Intermediate exposure


1.8 (0.7–4.6)


High or frequent exposure


2.6 (1.2–5.9)





Low or rare exposure


0.9 (0.4–2.2)


Intermediate exposure


0.7 (0.3–1.7)


High or frequent exposure


2.3 (1.1–4.7)

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