Air Force Fetal Protection Program
By Capt. Jaclyn Guess, 20th AMDS Public Health
/ Published November 16, 2012
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The Air Force Fetal Protection Program addresses the special safety requirements that are needed to protect the mother and unborn fetus in the workplace. Many workplace environments can present hazards to their employees and can ultimately pose a significant risk to women and/or the fetus.
Reproductive hazards exist within various workplaces and can have adverse effects on a developing fetus. Examples of reproductive hazards include: lead exposure, radiation, bromine vapor, plastic production, and welding. Potential effects on the female and/or fetus include: menstrual cycle effects, infertility, miscarriage and stillbirths, birth defects, low birth weight, premature birth, developmental disorders, and childhood cancer. Reproductive hazards for males could potentially effect sperm production, sperm shape, sperm transfer, sexual performance, sperm chromosomes, and damage to the sperm which could ultimately lead to miscarriage and/or health problems in the baby.
Because workplace environments can pose a risk to the reproductive system and fetus, precautions exist to protect employees. It is encouraged that women who have reason to believe they may be pregnant expeditiously come to the clinic to validate. In accordance with Air Force Instruction, women with confirmed pregnancy are to notify their supervisor and report to Public Health. When a pregnant employee reports to Public Health they will receive information on the specific hazards associated with their specific working environment and the appropriate documentation will be made available to properly notify the commander or supervisor of the required workplace restrictions. These processes are necessary to ensure the proper restrictions are provided and adhered to.
Commanders, supervisors, and members have the responsibility to ensure the safety of their subordinates, themselves, and the unborn child. Please adhere to Air Force Instructions so that safety and health of the unborn is not compromised. If you have any questions or concerns about the Fetal Protection Program, please contact Public Health at 803-895-6193.