Pregnant women who work too hard risk having a smaller baby
2nd July 2012
It seems pregnant women are always being told different things may harm their baby, or to avoid certain foods, etc. It is common knowledge that smoking and drinking in particularly are most harmful to a developing foetus inside the mother’s womb and this is a subject we reported almost a year ago. Now however, pregnant women need to start taking extra precautions in the workplace according to a study to emerge from The Netherlands. Scientists based at the Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, thoroughly quizzed over 4,600 pregnant working women during the years of 2002 to 2006. They waited until the women were at the halfway stage of their pregnancies and then asked questions such as how many hours each week they worked, how much of the day they spent standing on their feet, walking and also the kind of work they were involved in. The scientists documented the size of each baby throughout the duration of the latter half of each pregnancy and also once the baby was born they measured its size. The results of the study have been made available in the journal ‘Occupational and Environmental Medicine’. All women who were recruited for the study were employed within teaching, childcare and sales positions. Half said they worked between 25 to 39 hours each week and a quarter even worked over 40 hours every week. It was found that 38% of the women spent a long period of the working day on their feet and of that total, almost half said they were walking for extended time periods. In addition, 4% of the total said that they worked evening shifts and 6% worked in a job where they had to do heavy lifting. At the end of the study it was noted that generally, those who clocked over 25 hours of work a week, gave birth to babies with a head circumference that was 1cm smaller than the rest. Moreover, the women who worked more hours also were found to have babies that weighed approximately between 148g and 198g less than those working fewer hours. Experts say that the results would suggest that if the pregnant woman was standing up more at work, this could hinder the babies’ growth and development. The authors gave their opinions of the information obtained from the study and commented, “We believe that optimising the work environment is important, since participation of women in the reproductive age in the workforce continues to increase." They further added that it is advisable for women to try to refrain from doing shift and night work, prolonged periods of standing and limit any physical exertion in the workplace during their pregnancies.