Last reviewed 7 April 2022

A new study has found an association between the occupational use of disinfectants during pregnancy with increased risks for asthma and eczema in offspring at age three years.

The researchers examined data from 78,915 mother/child pairs between 2011 and 2014.

During their second or third trimesters, women completed questionnaires asking them how frequently they used or handled specific materials such as medical disinfectants during work.

Among the respondents, 5.2% used occupational disinfectants one to three times a month, 5.2% used them one to six times a week and 1.7% used them every day, with more frequent use among healthcare professionals than among non-health care professionals.

The women later completed questionnaires asking them if their children had ever been diagnosed by a physician with asthma, eczema or food allergies in the previous 12 months or if they had ever been treated for such a disease.

The researchers found that occupational disinfectant use during pregnancy increases the risk of developing asthma and atopic dermatitis in children by 30%.

Employers are required to include risks to female employees of childbearing age in their general workplace risk assessment. This includes risks to new and expectant mothers, who can be exposed to harm through certain working conditions and the use of physical, chemical or biological agents.

The study is published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine oem.bmj.com.