Parental occupation and risk of small-for-gestational-age births: a nationwide epidemiological study in Sweden

Hum Reprod. 2010 Apr;25(4):1044-50. doi: 10.1093/humrep/deq004. Epub 2010 Feb 3.


Background: Although evidence suggests that some occupations may be a risk factor for small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth, associations between a wide range of maternal and paternal occupations and risk of SGA births remain unclear. Our objective was to analyze the risk of SGA births by parental occupation, including the entire Swedish population of mothers (> or =20 years) and fathers.

Methods: We linked nationwide data (1990-2004) on singletons born to employed mothers to nationwide data on maternal and paternal occupation and other individual-level variables. Information on parental occupations was obtained from the 1990 census. Approximately 95% of SGA births (calculated using normative data) were defined on the basis of ultrasound. Odds ratios of SGA birth were calculated with 95% confidence intervals. Women and men were analyzed separately.

Results: There were 816,310 first singleton live births during the study period, of which 29,603 were SGA events. Families with low incomes had an increased risk of SGA births. After accounting for maternal age at the infant's birth, period of birth, family income, region of residence, marital status and smoking habits, several maternal occupational groups (including 'mechanics and iron and metalware workers' and 'packers, loaders and warehouse workers') had a significantly higher risk of SGA birth than the reference group (all women in the study population). Among paternal occupational groups, only waiters had an increased risk of SGA birth.

Conclusions: This large-scale follow-up study shows that maternal occupation affects risk of SGA birth, whereas paternal occupation does not seem to have an impact on SGA birth. Further studies are required to examine the specific agents in those maternal occupations that are associated with an increased risk of SGA birth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Male
  • Occupations*
  • Parents*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult