The pattern of secretion of many hormones, including prolactin, is dependent on the circadian rhythm. Night shift work involves exposure to artificial light at night and sleep deficiency, which in turn can affect prolactin synthesis. The aim of this study was to evaluate a possible association between night shift work characteristics, sleep quality, lifestyle factors and prolactin concentration, using data from a cross-sectional study of nurses and midwives. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 327 nurses and midwives currently working on rotating night shifts, and 330 nurses and midwives working during the day (aged 40-60 years) (388 premenopausal and 269 postmenopausal). Information about night shift work characteristics, lifestyle, reproductive factors, sleep pattern and other covariates was collected through a face-to-face interview, and from a one-week work and sleep diary completed by the subjects. Weight and height were measured. Prolactin concentration was measured in the morning blood sample using the electrochemiluminesence immunoassay method. Associations were analyzed using linear regression models adjusted for important confounders. Analyses were carried out separately in pre- and postmenopausal women. None of the night shift work or sleep characteristics was significantly associated with prolactin concentration. Prolactin concentration was significantly (p < 0.05) inversely associated with smoking and time of blood sample collection. These results were consistent among both pre- and postmenopausal women. Nulliparity was significantly positively associated with prolactin among premenopausal women, but inversely among postmenopausal. Age was related to prolactin among postmenopausal women only. Our study indicates that rotating night shift work is not associated with prolactin concentration. Smoking, parity, time of blood collection and age among postmenopausal women were significant determinants of prolactin.
Keywords: Lifestyle factors; night shift work; nurses and midwives; prolactin; sleep quality.