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Few studies have evaluated birth defects among children of firefighters. We investigated associations between birth defects and paternal work as a firefighter compared to work in non-firefighting and police officer occupations. We analyzed 1997-2011 data from the multi-site case-control National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Cases included fetuses or infants with major structural birth defects and controls included a random sample of live-born infants without major birth defects. Mothers of infants self-reported information about parents' occupations held during pregnancy. We investigated associations between paternal firefighting and birth defect groups using logistic regression to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Referent groups included families reporting fathers working non-firefighting and police officer jobs. Occupational groups included 227 firefighters, 36,285 non-firefighters, and 433 police officers. Twenty-nine birth defects were analyzed. In adjusted analyses, fathers of children with total anomalous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR; OR = 3.1; 95% CI = 1.1-8.7), cleft palate (OR = 1.8; 95% CI = 1.0-3.3), cleft lip (OR = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.2-4.2), and transverse limb deficiency (OR = 2.2; 95% CI = 1.1-4.7) were more likely than fathers of controls to be firefighters, versus non-firefighters. In police-referent analyses, fathers of children with cleft palate were 2.4 times more likely to be firefighters than fathers of controls (95% CI = 1.1-5.4). Paternal firefighting may be associated with an elevated risk of birth defects in offspring. Additional studies are warranted to replicate these findings. Further research may contribute to a greater understanding of the reproductive health of firefighters and their families for guiding workplace practices. © 2022 The Authors. American Journal of Industrial Medicine Published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.


Miriam R Siegel, Carissa M Rocheleau, Brittany S Hollerbach, Amel Omari, Sara A Jahnke, Lynn M Almli, Andrew F Olshan, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth defects associated with paternal firefighting in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. American journal of industrial medicine. 2023 Jan;66(1):30-40

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PMID: 36345775

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