Objective: The aim of this study was to prospectively determine the relationship between occupational fatigue and spontaneous preterm delivery segregated into the etiologically distinct categories of spontaneous preterm labor, preterm premature rupture of membranes, and indicated preterm delivery.
Study design: A total of 2929 women with singleton pregnancies at 22 to 24 weeks' gestation were enrolled in a multicenter (10 sites) Preterm Prediction Study. Patients reported the number of hours worked per week and answered specific questions designed to determine the following 5 sources of occupational fatigue described by Mamelle et al: posture, work with industrial machines, physical exertion, mental stress, and environmental stress. Fatigue was quantified (0-5 index) according to the number of these sources positively reported. Simple and Mantel-Haenszel chi2 tests were used to test the univariate association and hypothesis of a linear trend between sources of occupational fatigue and spontaneous preterm delivery. Covariables were considered by multivariate logistic regression analysis. Women who did not work outside the home were considered separately from those who worked but did not report any sources of occupational fatigue.
Results: Each source of occupational fatigue was independently associated with a significantly increased risk of preterm premature rupture of membranes among nulliparous women but not among multiparous women. The risk of preterm premature rupture of membranes increased (P = .002) with an increasing number of sources of occupational fatigue-not working outside the home, 2.1%; working but not reporting fatigue, 3.7%; working with 1 source of fatigue, 3.2%; working with 2 sources of fatigue, 5.2%; working with 3 sources of fatigue, 5.1%; and working with 4 or 5 sources of fatigue, 7.4%. There was also a significant relationship (P = .01) between preterm premature rupture of membranes and an increasing number of hours worked per week among nulliparous women. Neither spontaneous preterm labor nor indicated preterm delivery was significantly associated with occupational fatigue among either nulliparous or multiparous women.
Conclusion: The occupational fatigue index of Mamelle et al discriminated a group of nulliparous women at increased risk for preterm premature rupture of membranes. The relationship between preterm premature rupture of membranes and occupational fatigue or hours worked may provide guidelines according to which nulliparous women and their employers can be advised.