Genetic Counselor Appointment

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Risstopher's picture
Joined: 02/29/12
Posts: 627
Genetic Counselor Appointment

Well, as some of you know i work for an aerospace company and am around chemicals - my doctor wrote me out of work all week to do an evaluation on whether or not the working conditions (fumes and such) are safe for me to be working in...

this morning i went to the doctor just to speak w/ her and get my doctor's note and she said that she could not find some items on the 20 page packet of papers i gave her about this 'solvent' (that my job is telling me is 'negligible', which i believe it is NOT... maybe i'm wrong, i don't know)....
so when i went to my doctor this morning she told me that she had made me an appointment with a geneticist so be as thorough as we possibly can and make 100% sure of the safety of this work environment. That appointment is for this coming Tuesday at 11:00am.
My husband works with me in another department and has for 20+ years (i'm only 26, he's 43 so this is his career while i just thought of it as a job for me)... he has a good position within the company and i feel like sometimes he is just taking their word for it... but annnnyway...

this has been a stressful topic and i can't wait until i have a clear answer on what to do so i can get on wtih enjoying my pregnancy. the time out of work is as stressful as waiting to hear what i am going to do - i just know the work is piling up on my desk....
although i DO feel better that i am on the right track and the answer i get - i will have confidence in, since seeing my doctor go through this to get me the answer that i need.
they even all told me in the office that they will write me a note for all the days missed and if my job has anything to say that they can call them and they will vouch for me no matter what! PHEW... what a DAY!

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

:lurk:

I'm a geneticist and during my pregnancy with DD I had to modify what I worked with because at the time I was working in a biochemistry wetlab where teratogens (chemicals harmful to a developing fetus) were present. Do you feel comfortable telling me what the solvent is you're working with? Perhaps I know something about it. Also, a genetic councilor might be able to tell you 2 things, 1) if you decide to have the baby tested he/she *might* be able to tell you if the baby is carrying a genetic mutation due to the solvent. This is highly unlikely though because the effects of most substances haven't been studied well enough for the results of a genetic screen to be diagnostic for exposure. 2) he/she *might* be able to give you some sense as to the risk associated with exposure, (ie if its a known mutatagen/carcinogen/teratogen). If the effects of the solvent have been studied well enough then that's something an MSDS sheet will tell you. If the effects of this solvent haven't been well-studied then its unlikely your employer or even a genetic councilor will be able to provide complete assurance and you have to make the decision for yourself. If YOU don't feel comfortable working with it then you should ask that your duties be altered such that you will no longer come in contact with it. IMO, its not worth the stress or the perpetual wondering later on. Ultimately, jobs are temporary and replaceable, children are forever and irreplaceable.

:bigarmhug: Fell free to PM me if you want to discuss this "off-line"

Risstopher's picture
Joined: 02/29/12
Posts: 627

thank you SOOOO much for this information, it is really helpful, i already know i'd opt to not be there if the ball was left in my court. the hardest thing i'm dealing with is, even my husband noticed that being that i am the only one that does my job, no one even fills in for me, my husband and i are having a hard time seeing them place me in a different department, hoping that the could -but we'll see...

the solvent, is varsol. if you have any knowledge on this i'm interested!
thanks so much again!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Smile

harmonybear's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 639

My degree in college was polymer engineering, which is heavy in chemistry. I know nothing about how those chemicals affect the body, but since I do know chemistry I thought I'd tell you what I could find out.

If your doctor couldn't find information about it, that means there probably haven't been studies done on it yet. I looked up the MSDA for varsol-1 (there were lots of varsols, so if this isn't the one your company uses the information might be different), and the closest you're going to get is that it's rated 1 for health (pretty good). But, two of the ingredients are ethyl benzene and naphthalene. Both of those are questionable IMO. They're both simple arenes, which tend to be more reactive, and that always scares me. (ETA: It always scares me because when a chemical is quick to react, it will be likely to react inside your body, and that's not good news during pregnancy.) And a quick google search doesn't make me feel any better about it.

For example, naphthalene (the same stuff used in moth balls): "Infants whose mothers were exposed to naphthalene during pregnancy developed blood problems (hemolytic anemia)"

And Ethyl Benzene: "Special vulnerabilities of children have not been established; however, tests on animals have demonstrated increased incidence of birth defects among pregnant females exposed to airborne ethylbenzene."

My guess is that there are no studies specifically on varsol, so you're not going to get a firm answer. And it's entirely possible that mixing ethyl benzene and naphthalene creates something safer instead of more toxic - chemistry is often funny that way. But if it were me, I'd probably err on the safe side and ask to be not exposed to the varsol for the duration of my pregnancy.

Risstopher's picture
Joined: 02/29/12
Posts: 627

wow these answers are SO helpful! i never thought i'd get such informative responses, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! i'm leaning more and more towards that, now the thing that scares me is that i was exposed to it for 2 1/2 years and for the first 4 weeks of pregnancy (i didn't know i was pregnant), but i've been out of work since...

again, thank you i am definitely finding this helpful.

Risstopher's picture
Joined: 02/29/12
Posts: 627

i also did the google search and that is what really scared me too and didn't make me comfortable =/

TiggersMommy's picture
Joined: 02/14/10
Posts: 6043

I can't give you much more useful information than Harmony just did because I haven't worked with that particular chemical but another question I have is how you've been exposed. In what capacity are you working with it? Is it something that's contained in a fume hood and if not could it be? Would you feel more comfortable if you increased your personal protective equipment (PPE)? I used to work with a few chemicals that were only dangerous if inhaled in solid form. One they were put into solution they were easily handled so I would ask my co-workers to make up my solution and then I went a bit crazy with the PPE while handling it (in a fume hood). It was all overkill FOR SURE but I wasn't taking any chances. I also don't feel like there's much to worry about over exposure during the very first few weeks of pregnancy. Prior to full formation of the placenta, the embryo isn't exposed to the full compliment of what's circulating in your system. Unless its a compound that sticks around for a long time then you're more than likely just fine. Besides, at 4 weeks pregnant you've only *actually* been pregnant for 2 weeks and the embryo hasn't even implanted until just around that time.

There might also be specific legislative protection for you if you're afraid they might lay you off because you're not comfortable working with certain chemicals while pregnant. They most certainly can't fire you because you're pregnant.

Risstopher's picture
Joined: 02/29/12
Posts: 627

i think there is a fume hood - i don't work with the chemicals either, i just work in teh same room but sometimes the smell is unbearable. thanks for the reassurance, im feeling better about this.
i'm going to ask if i can be moved into another deparment because knowing me i'll worry the whole time everytime i smell it. the good thing is my boss is really understanding and cool - i've been friends w/ his step daughter & close to his wife since i was in 2nd grade, so i'm really blessed in that sense where they will probably do what they can to accomodate me. i think the hardest part will be leaving that department becuase i'm so settled into it -but it's actually getting easier and easier and i'm going to speak with my boss on monday to see if i can be relocated... some of my job duties will have to change and thats ok with me.
you guys have been so helpful