OBGYN screening for environmental exposures: A call for action

N. M. Grindler, A. A. Allshouse, E. Jungheim, T. L. Powell, T. Jansson, A. J. Polotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background Prenatal exposures have known adverse effects on maternal and neonatal outcomes. Professional societies recommend routine screening for environmental, occupational, and dietary exposures to reduce exposures and their associated sequelae. Objective Our objective was to determine the frequency of environmental exposure screening by obstetricians and gynecologists (OBGYNs) at initial patient visits. Study design Practicing OBGYNs were approached at the University of Colorado and by social media. The survey instrument queried demographics, environmental literacy, and screening practices. Statistical analysis was performed using Chi-square and two-sample t-test. Results We received 312 online survey responses (response rate of 12%). Responding OBGYNs were predominantly female (96%), board-certified (78%), generalists (65%) with a mean age of 37.1 years. Fewer than half of physicians screened for the following factors: occupational exposures, environmental chemicals, air pollution, pesticide use, personal care products, household cleaners, water source, use of plastics for food storage, and lead and mercury exposure. Eighty five percent of respondents reported that they did not feel comfortable obtaining an environmental history and 58% respondents reported that they performed no regular screening of environmental exposures. A higher frequency of screening was associated with > 4 years of practice (p = 0.001), and having read the environmental committee opinion (p = <0.001). Conclusion The majority of OBGYNs did not incorporate screening for known environmental exposures into routine practice. Reading the environmental committee opinions was strongly and significantly associated with a higher rate of screening. Improving physician comfort in counseling patients may enhance screening for exposures that affect reproductive health.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0195375
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018


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