Spontaneous abortion and exposure to electric blankets and heated water beds

Epidemiology. 1998 Jan;9(1):36-42.


We conducted a prospective study (N = 2,967) to evaluate the relation of spontaneous abortion with use of electrically heated beds (electric blankets and heated water beds) during pregnancy. At interview, 61.5% of women were at less than 12 weeks gestation, and 38.5% were between 13 and 16 weeks; thus, very early pregnancy losses would have been excluded. Information regarding exposure to electric beds was obtained for the month of conception and the 7 days before interview. Electric blanket use at conception was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion in the unadjusted analysis [relative risk (RR) = 1.84; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.08-3.13], but adjustment for other factors reduced the risk slightly [odds ratio (OR) = 1.74; 95% CI = 0.96-3.15]. Heated water bed use was not associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion at conception (OR = 0.59; 95% CI = 0.33-1.07) or at interview (OR = 0.63; 95% CI = 0.36-1.12). Measures of dose response (daily use, hours of use, or temperature setting) were not associated with increased risk. Wire code data were obtained for the first, or only, house lived in during pregnancy. Women living in homes classified as "very high" or "ordinary high" current configuration were not at greater risk than women living in homes with buried wires. Nor was there any trend for increased risk of spontaneous abortion by wire code category. This study does not support the hypothesis that use of electric beds or residence in a high current configuration home increases the risk of spontaneous abortion; however, it indicates that electric blanket use at the time of conception and in early pregnancy may be associated with a slight increase in risk of pregnancy loss.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / epidemiology*
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / etiology
  • Adult
  • Bedding and Linens / adverse effects*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors