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New ACOG Resource Calls for Clinician Responsibility in Preventing Environmental/Occupational Health Risks for Women

Woman and Clinician

The Migrant Clinicians Network (MCN) is pleased to receive support of our mission to be a force for health justice for the mobile poor from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).  A recent ACOG Committee Opinion entitled Exposure to Toxic Environmental Agents - produced in collaboration with the University of California, San Francisco Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment - makes a strong case for the clinician’s role in promoting environmental justice for our female patients.

The statement includes a clear focus on the disproportionate harm from environmental and occupational exposures to toxic chemicals suffered by “vulnerable and underserved populations” with the recognition that “low-wage immigrant populations disproportionately work in occupations associated with a hazardous workplace environment.”

In the opinion, the Committee presents a review of the research linking the impact of toxin exposure to adverse health outcomes for women of all ages and states that the link is “sufficiently robust,” calling on clinicians to take action, especially in the care of pregnant women.  The forms of action recommended in the discussion include:

1) Bolstering healthcare professionals’ knowledge about environmental health risks;

2) Including an exposure history in perinatal care;

3) providing patient education regarding avoiding exposure to toxins; and

4) following reporting requirements for identified exposures. 

Finally, the document urges clinicians to become involved in influencing policy related to exposure of women to environmental toxins through advocacy.

For clinical and patient education resources relevant to the migrant population, please explore the MCN's Environmental and Occupational Health related Tools and Resources as well as the resources linked to the ACOG Committee Opinion

MCN welcomes the support of other organizations in highlighting the important role that clinicians have in promoting the health of women and their babies by helping to prevent exposure to environmental and occupational hazards. 

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Exposure to toxic environmental agents.Committee Opinion No. 575.American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.ObstetGynecol 2013; 122:93, 1-5.