OBs Value Environmental Exposure Counseling, But Few Ask
(HealthDay News) — Most U.S. obstetricians recognize that counseling can reduce environmental exposure during pregnancy, but few routinely ask about common exposures, according to a study published online June 25 in PLOS ONE.
Naomi E. Stotland, MD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues examined attitudes, beliefs, and practices of U.S. obstetricians on prenatal environmental exposures. Data were obtained from 2,514 responses to online surveys.
The researchers found that 78% of obstetricians agreed that counseling patients could reduce patient exposures to environmental health hazards. However, <20% of respondents reported routinely asking about environmental exposures commonly encountered in pregnancy, and 50% reported rarely taking an environmental health history. Few obstetricians (one in 15) reported having receiving training on this topic. Lack of knowledge and uncertainty relating to the evidence; concerns that patients would be unable to reduce harmful exposures; and fear of causing anxiety among patients were cited as barriers to counseling.
"U.S. obstetricians in our study recognized the potential impact of the environment on reproductive health, and the role that physicians could play in prevention, but reported numerous barriers to counseling patients," the authors write. "Medical education and training, evidence-based guidelines, and tools for communicating risks to patients are needed to support the clinical role in preventing environmental exposures that threaten patient health."