Video display terminals and the risk of spontaneous abortion.N Engl J Med. 1991 Mar 14; 324(11):727-33.NEJM
The relation between spontaneous abortion and the use of video display terminals (VDTs) is of great public health concern. Previous investigators of this issue have reported inconsistent findings.
To determine whether electromagnetic fields emitted by VDTs are associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion, a cohort of female telephone operators who used VDTs at work was compared with a cohort of operators who did not use VDTs. To obtain reliable estimates of exposure, we determined the number of hours of VDT use per week from company records and measured electromagnetic fields at VDT workstations and, for purposes of comparison, at workstations without VDTs. Operators who used VDTs had higher abdominal exposure to very-low-frequency (15 kHz) electromagnetic fields (workstations without VDTs did not emit very-low-frequency energy). Abdominal exposure to extremely-low-frequency fields (45 to 60 Hz) was similar for both operators who used VDTs and those who did not. Among 2430 women interviewed, there were 882 pregnancies that met our criteria for inclusion in the study.
We found no excess risk of spontaneous abortion among women who used VDTs during the first trimester of pregnancy (odds ratio = 0.93; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.63 to 1.38), and no dose-response relation was apparent when we examined the women's hours of VDT use per week (odds ratio for 1 to 25 hours per week = 1.04; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.61 to 1.79; odds ratio for greater than 25 hours per week = 1.00; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.61 to 1.64). There continued to be no risk associated with the use of VDTs when we accounted for multiple pregnancies, conducted separate analyses of early abortion, late abortion, and all fetal losses, or limited our analyses to spontaneous abortions for which a physician was consulted.
The use of VDTs and exposure to the accompanying electromagnetic fields were not associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in this study.