Reproductive Health Risks Associated With Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic Drugs in Health Care Settings: A Review of the Evidence
Objectives: Antineoplastic drugs are known reproductive and developmental toxicants. Our objective was to review the existing literature of reproductive health risks to workers who handle antineoplastic drugs.
Methods: A structured literature review of 18 peer-reviewed, English language publications of occupational exposure and reproductive outcomes was performed.
Results: Although effect sizes varied with study size and population, occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs seems to raise the risk of both congenital malformations and miscarriage. Studies of infertility and time to pregnancy also suggested an increased risk for subfertility.
Conclusions: Antineoplastic drugs are highly toxic in patients receiving treatment, and adverse reproductive effects have been well documented in these patients. Health care workers with long-term, low-level occupational exposure to these drugs also seem to have an increased risk of adverse reproductive outcomes. Additional precautions to prevent exposure should be considered.