Occupational Diseases and Injuries

  • Clinical Updates in Women's Health Care CU
  • July 2010

ABSTRACT: The increasing growth and variety of women's employment over the past several decades has increased the probability that women will develop illnesses or injuries related to work. Occupational disorders are traditionally underrecognized because they generally are similar in form to nonoccupational conditions; hence, their recognition and treatment is vitally dependent on the physician obtaining information on work and workplace exposures. obstetrician–gynecologists can obtain relevant information to determine if a disorder is work-related by a short screening examination, and if suspicion is aroused, a more detailed assessment should be done. Principal disorders arising from modern workplace exposures include musculoskeletal disorders of the hand, arm, and back; skin disorders, including dermatitis and urticaria; pulmonary diseases, such as asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis; conditions caused by toxic exposures to lead, other heavy metals, and solvents; and noise-induced hearing loss. Pregnancy may present a challenge to working women because exposure levels considered acceptable in adults may have profound consequences for reproductive health and development of the fetus. Thoughtful consideration of work practices and the use of materials may successfully reduce potentially harmful exposures and assist women in continuing in healthy and gainful work. A framework is provided to assist the obstetrician-gynecologist with the reduction of occupational exposures and the promotion of women's health at work.

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