Developmental evaluation of children born to mothers occupationally exposed to waste anesthetic gases

Navah Z. Ratzon, Asher Ornoy, Asher Pardo, Margolin Rachel, Maureen Hatch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: The etiology of developmental delay in children is frequently unknown. Increasing evidence supports the possibility that environmental and occupational factors might be part of the basis for such delays. This study focuses on the development of children born to mothers who were exposed during their pregnancy to waste anesthetic gases. METHODS: The study population included 40 children aged 5-13 years born to female anesthesiologists and nurses working in operating rooms (OpRs) exposed to waste anesthetic gases, and 40 unexposed children born to female nurses and physicians who worked in hospitals during their pregnancy but did not work in OpRs. The unexposed group was matched for children's age and gender and maternal occupation (nurses vs. doctors). By means of standardized developmental tests, the present study population was evaluated for their medical and neurodevelopmental state. Questionnaires were given for the detection of attention and activity levels as perceived by the parents. Additional questionnaires dealt with information concerning developmental milestones, maternal and fetal morbidity, and gynecological history. RESULTS: No differences were noted between the groups as newborns or in developmental milestones at the age of 5-13 years; however, the mean score of gross motor ability was significantly lower in the exposed versus the unexposed group. Additionally, the mean score of the DSM-III-R Parent-Teacher Questionnaire (PTQ) (i.e., measure of inattention/hyperactivity) was higher in the exposed group. The level of exposure, as measured by the number of weekly hours in the OpRs, was significantly and negatively correlated with fine motor ability and the score of IQ performance. CONCLUSIONS: Our study supports the hypothesis that occupational exposure to anesthetic gases might be a risk factor for minor neurological deficits of children born to mothers who work in OpRs and therefore indicates the need for more studies in this area and perhaps more caution among OpR pregnant women and employers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-482
Number of pages7
JournalBirth Defects Research Part A - Clinical and Molecular Teratology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Anesthetic gases
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • Hyperactivity/inattention


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