Spontaneous abortion in the British semiconductor industry: An HSE investigation. Health and Safety Executive

Am J Ind Med. 1999 Nov;36(5):557-72. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0274(199911)36:5<557::aid-ajim8>3.0.co;2-q.


Background: The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted a study to examine the risk of spontaneous abortion (SAB) in British female semiconductor industry workers, following reports from the USA which suggested an association between risk of SAB and work in fabrication rooms and/or exposure to ethylene glycol ethers.

Methods: A nested case-control study based on 2,207 women who had worked at eight manufacturing sites during a 5-year retrospective time frame was established; 36 cases were matched with 80 controls.

Results: The overall SAB rate in the industry was 10.0%. (65 SABs/651 pregnancies) The crude odds ratio (OR) for fabrication work was 0.65 (95% CI 0.30-1.40). This was essentially unchanged after adjustment for a range of potential confounding factors in the first 3 months of pregnancy and was reduced to 0.58 (95% CI 0.26-1.30) after adjustment for smoking in the previous 12 months. There were no statistically significantly elevated ORs for any work group or any specific chemical or physical exposure in the industry.

Conclusions: There is no evidence of an increased risk of SAB in the British semiconductor industry. Am. J. Ind. Med. 36:557-572, 1999. Published 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Ethylene Glycols / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Exposure
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Semiconductors*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Solvents / adverse effects
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology


  • Ethylene Glycols
  • Solvents
  • 2-ethoxyethanol