Objectives

This research program places reproductive damage and working environment on the agenda of Danish research. The aim is to unify Danish researchers of reproduction in a working environment network, focusing on birth defects and the working environment in the construction and use of databases, recruiting new researchers to the area through a Ph.D. - and post.doc.-course and by conducting in all five sub-projects on current relevant issues in the field of the working environment. As a research resource the project uses existing data from the Danish National Birth Cohort and the Occupation and Birth Register in the development of a research database by combining other records (analogous to the Occupation and Hospital Register).

The project gathers researchers on reproduction in a national network of the working environment and build a research infrastructure based on two databases, where five subprojects study:

  1.  Whether ergonomic loads in work increases the risk of late spontaneous abortion, impaired fetal growth and premature birth. Earlier, smaller studies have given conflicting results, but the large Danish National Birth Cohort provides a good opportunity to answer that
  2. If the experience of stress at work and long working week is associated with increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes and affect the child's behaviour in child age. Many Danish women report that they are often stressed in their daily life - and work-related factors contribute to this. Even moderate mental stress appears to affect fetal development, but we have very little knowledge of the effect of work stress.
  3. Whether occupational exposure to endocrine disruptors increases the risk of birth defects. The incidence of congenital malformation is increasing, and new animal studies shows that simultaneous exposure to several endocrine disrupting substances in small doses, which in itself is without power, results in severe malformation of the sex organs of the offspring - recent research indicates that the same result applies for humans.
  4. Whether exposure in the working environment plays a role in the dramatically increased incidence of allergic disease in Danish children, which is suggested in a few recent studies.
  5. Whether the influence of the father's work can play a role in the children's fertility, since new data indicates that a wide range of chemicals can affect fertility in the next generation. Infertility is a common problem - more than 25% of Danish men have unexplained low sperm quality. There is therefore good reason to study if exposure of the father at work has consequences for fertility in the next generation.

Finally a web-based encyclopaedia of occupation and the main birth defects will be established. This database will be open to all and could be used by working professionals who advise on occupational health and pregnancy.

The Researcher network includes from the outset 13 researchers from at the National Research Centre for the Working Environment (NFA) and the three university faculties of medical science together with 2 Ph.D. students and will be performed from 2008 to 2011.