Pregnancy and radiation?

Tarja Kokkola tkokkola at
Tue Mar 4 09:25:41 EST 1997

Dear women-in-bio,

Is my idea of getting pregnant while working with radioactive isotopes
an absolutely foolish one? My Ph.D. studies are now at the stage where I
probably will have finished the practical work before the end of this
year. My husband and I have put aside making babies for years, first
until I got my M.Sc. and then during the Ph.D. studies (BTW, in Finland
everybody gets M.Sc. degree first - it takes five years - and most of the
people don't continue their studies after that). We know that becoming
pregnant will not necessarily succeed right away and that is why we would
like to start trying now. But what if I become pregnant now and continue
working with radioactivity? If something was wrong with the baby I would
blame myself for the rest of my life... I would of course use the lead
apron (I am using 125I for radioligand binding assays, nCi amounts/tube)
and minimize the time of exposure. We would not want to wait six months
more. I could concentrate on writing the thesis during the late pregnancy
and while at home with the baby. In Finland, we have to get 3-6
publications and write a thesis before dissertation. Of course, writing
something while at home with a little baby will not be easy but I am
willing to try it.

Please share your thougts about pregnancy and labwork with me. Besides
radioactivity, are there some other things I should avoid? My work
includes molecular biology (ethidium bromide, E. coli, solvents...) as
well as cell culture (TCDD) and pharmacology. 

Thanks for your answers, 

Tarja Kokkola
e-mail: tkokkola at

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