Miscarriages Are Common Among Pharmacists
Occupational exposure to certain medications and long hours standing may increase risk.
According to national estimates, approximately 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage, which is defined as loss of the fetus prior to 20 weeks.1
Study results show that certain health care professionals, such as pharmacists, may be at increased occupational risk of miscarriage or stillbirth because of exposure to certain medications.2 Additionally, pharmacists typically work unusually long hours while standing and seldom have breaks, which can further increase the risk of miscarriage.
In the largest network of female pharmacists on social media—the Pharmacist Moms Group (PMG) Facebook group, which includes approximately 35,000 women—members often share stories of heartbreak and loss due to miscarriage.3 PMG offers emotional and professional support to mothers who are pharmacists across the United States.
Many of these women suffer while losing the baby even, sometimes while working, before heading home to bleed on an oversized pad telling themselves to stay strong. Pharmacists often worry about sharing these struggles with employers for fear of losing their jobs. In fact, many moms who are pharmacists have shared that they are so dedicated to their patients that they delay using the restroom when they suspect that they are bleeding.
Although miscarriage is common, it is also a taboo topic. It can leave women with a sense of loss and longer-term emotional consequences, particularly in cases of multiple miscarriages.
One of the first countries to offer bereaved women paid time off after a miscarriage or infant loss was New Zealand, and hopefully such measures will gain traction around the world.4 All these steps point to us gaining a better understanding of the needs of postpartum women, whether it is miscarriage, loss, abortion, or post live birth. These measures also provide women the opportunity to heal emotionally, mentally, and physically. The fact that miscarriages are common does not diminish the trauma that may occur because of pregnancy loss, both to the body and mind.
With women accounting for more than 58% of pharmacists in the United States,5 it is imperative that organizations employing pharmacists create and foster supportive environments that help make female pharmacists feel safe and supported during what can be a very difficult time.
1. Miscarriage. MedlinePlus. Updated April 2, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001488.htm
2. Valanis B, Vollmer WM, Steele P. Occupational exposure to antineoplastic agents: self-reported miscarriages and stillbirths among nurses and pharmacists. J Occup Environ Med. 1999;41(8):632-638. doi:10.1097/00043764-199908000-0004
3. Pharmacist Moms Group. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.pharmacistmomsgroup.com/
4. Mellen R, Pannett R. New Zealand becomes one of the first countries to legalize paid leave for miscarriages. Washington Post. March 30, 2021. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/03/26/new-zealand-miscarriage-bereavement-law/
5. Pharmacists. Data USA. Accessed April 21, 2021. https://datausa.io/profile/soc/pharmacists
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Suzanne Soliman, PharmD, BCMAS, is the chief academic officer at the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs and the founder of Pharmacist Moms Group, the largest group of female pharmacists in the United States with more than 35,000 members.