Babies born to mothers who are exposed to organic solvents at work have a slightly higher risk of having a congenital heart defect at birth, research suggests.

Industrial hygienists assessed the levels of workplace exposure to solvents in 5,000 women from across the US, from one month before conception through to the first three months of pregnancy.

beauty solvent heart defect birth

Are beauticians putting their baby's health at risk?

The study was published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and was part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.

Expectant mothers who work with paints, varnishes, cleaning products, dyes and agricultural products which include organic solvents could potentially be putting their babies at risk of being born with congenital heart defects.

If women are exposed to such solvents from one month before conception to the first three months of pregnancy there is potentially a risk factor for several types of heart defects at birth, researchers said.

Scroll down for health dangers lurking in your make-up bag (PICTURES)

All of their babies were born between 1997 and 2002. Researchers also included data on stillbirths and abortions.

The authors looked for associations between exposure to organic solvents which are common in some workplaces, and 15 categories of congenital heart defects.

They found that around 4% of mothers whose babies did not have birth defects, and 5% of those who did, had been exposed to an organic solvent at about the time they were trying to conceive or early in pregnancy.


However, the authors caution: "Despite the strengths of this analysis, the results do not allow for the drawing of definitive conclusions on specific exposure-congenital heart defect combinations."

Amy Thompson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement: “This study links exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace during pregnancy to an increased risk of congenital heart disease in your baby.

“However, these results do not prove that solvents caused these congenital heart defects. Further research is needed to see if these observations are correct.

“If you have any concerns about your pregnancy or you are planning a baby and would like more information, speak to your GP or midwife.”

Professor Donald Peebles, a consultant obstetrician for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, told the BBC: "It's a fairly small increased risk of a rare complication of pregnancy. In the UK, around 1% of babies are born with these problems and what we are talking about is a small percentage of these.

"No one would say based on these findings that someone should give up their job. But it may be sensible to limit exposure when possible."

This research is linked to another study conducted by the same researchers, who found a father's occupations increases the risk of birth defects.

Before you slap on the lippy - take a look at these potential health hazards lurking in your make-up bag, with top top tips from make-up artist Lucy Jayne from Lucy Jayne Make-Up

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  • Hidden Health Traps In Your Make-Up Bag

    Our make-up bags are a veritable breeding ground for germs, bacteria and infections. Make sure your cosmetics are in tip top shape (and germ-free) by following these helpful tips by make-up artist Lucy Jayne from <a href="" target="_hplink"><strong>Lucy Jayne Make-Up</strong></a>.

  • Dirty Brushes

    "Clean your brushes regularly, you don't have to do anything fancy with them! I clean my brushes with warm water and hand wash (with anti bacterial action) because they are cleaned after every use it needs to be quite gentile otherwise they wont last as long. "You can also buy brush cleaners/brush spray that have antibacterial action. Leave the brushes to dry flat because if they are upside down or left in a pot to dry this can damage the brush and base of the brush (Ferrule)," explains Lucy. <strong>Tip:</strong> If you don't want to replace your brushes every month, wash the hairs under the faucet with mild baby shampoo.

  • Detox Your Make-Up

    We're always hearing about the dangers of 'hormone disrupting' chemicals lurking in our cosmetics (phythalates and BPA's to name a few) that scientists suggest cause a long list of health problems (like hormone imbalance, increased breast cancer risk and behavioural issues). So, detox your products by checking the ingredients and steering clear of products that contain the following: methyl, butyl, ethyl, or propyl. "When looking at making a new makeup purchase, mineral foundation is a good way to go because its kinder to your skin and has anti-inflammatory properties that are great for problems like Rosacea and Acne and doesn't contain fragrances, preservatives or parabens. "When making your purchase shop around and check ingredients as many brands that say they have 'mineral ranges' but they actually only contain a minimal amount of minerals and the rest is other ingredients!" says Lucy. <strong>Tip:</strong> Try purchasing make-up from organic 'green' companies who only use natural ingredients in their cosmetics and speak to a specialist before making your choices.

  • Out-Of-Date Products

    The common rule of thumb when it comes to how long you should use a cosmetic product is: <strong>if it's older than 18 months, throw it away</strong>. Checking the expiry date of your favourite mascara or foundation should be treated the same way we keep an eye on the use-by date on the milk in our fridge. This is because, like edible liquids, if foams, sprays or creams begin to go rotten, it creates a breeding ground for infectious bacteria, fungi and germs to develop. And we don't want to spread germs all over our faces do we? "Use by dates, this should be used as a guide. With anything powder (blush, eyeshadows, bronzer) they can last for ages but once they start to look a bit 'waxy' its time to get rid! As for anything liquid (foundations, cleansers, eyeliners) if they start to smell slightly off or separate they are out of date. "Also foundations can oxidise and actually get darker the older they are so you may have originally bought the perfect colour but 18 months later you could find you are using looking slightly more tanned than you should be!" adds Lucy. <strong>Tip:</strong> Put the dell-by dates in your diary and have a monthly clear-out. Plus, it's also a great excuse to go make-up shopping!

  • Ditch The Jars

    When buying make-up, try and opt for tubes instead of jars because every time you dip, swipe or swab your fingers into a jar of cream, you're introducing bacteria from your hands into the product and unwittingly contaminating it. This allows germs to stay put and breed, meaning every time you use the product, you could be wiping germs over your face. "If you have any eye infections or cold sores its a good idea to dispose of the products that you would normally use on those areas straight away because there is a good chance you could re-infect yourself if you keep on using them," explains Lucy. <strong>Tip:</strong> If you can't tear yourself away from jars, use a Q-tex tip to apply your make-up, rather than your fingers.