Reproductive toxicity

There are studies involving mixed solvents which have shown adverse reproductive effects, but none have involved exposure to xylene alone. Consequently, no definite conclusion can be reached about the reproductive toxicity of xylene in humans.

In a study of laboratory workers exposed to various chemicals, exposure to xylene was associated with an increased risk of spontaneous abortion (Taskinen et al., 1994). A study of men exposed to a mixture of solvents found that spontaneous abortion in their partners was significantly associated with paternal exposure to organic solvents in general, high/frequent exposure to toluene and miscellaneous organic solvents. There was also greater risk with xylene exposure but the increase was not statistically significant (Taskinen et al., 1989).

A woman exposed to xylenes and a number of other solvents during pregnancy gave birth to a child with hydranencephaly. However, she had previously had another child born with a brain abnormality and the author concluded that the defect was due to predisposition and parental age rather than solvent exposure (Holmberg, 1979).

Xylene has been shown to be embryotoxic and fetotoxic in animal experiments. Teratogenicity has been demonstrated with mixed and individual isomers but only at concentrations causing maternal toxicity (reviewed in Barlow and Sullivan, 1982; Hood and Ottley, 1985; Riihimäki and Hänninen, 1987). The o- and p-isomers appear to be more hazardous to offspring than m-xylene (Hood and Ottley, 1985).

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