Maternal work during pregnancy and the risks of delivering a small-for-gestational-age or preterm infant

Scand J Work Environ Health. 1995 Dec;21(6):412-8. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.56.


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess the relation of some maternal job characteristics to the risks of delivering a small-for-gestational-age or preterm infant.

Methods: Altogether 4390 women who lived in Quebec City, Canada, and the surrounding area, and who gave birth between January and October 1989 to a singleton liveborn neonate were included. Information on gestational age at delivery, job characteristics, nonoccupational physical activities, and several potential confounders was obtained in a telephone interview a few weeks after the delivery. Birthweight was recorded from the birth certificate.

Results: The risk of having a small-for-gestational-age infant (birthweight lower than the 10th percentile for gestational age and gender) was increased among the women who worked at least 6 h a day in a standing position. The adjusted odds ratios (OR) were 1.00, 1.13 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.83-1.55], and 1.42 (95% CI 1.02-1.95) for the women working in a standing position < 3, 3-5, and > or = 6 h a day, respectively. The risk for a small-for-gestational-age infant also slightly increased as the gestational age at work cessation increased. A modest increment in the risk of delivering preterm (OR, 1.45, 95% CI 0.84-2.49) was observed for the women working regularly in the evening or at night. Physical effort, lifting heavy objects, and long workhours were not related to either a small-for-gestational-age or a preterm infant.

Conclusions: The results indicate that prolonged standing and working late into pregnancy may increase the risk of delivering a small-for-gestational-age infant, whereas regular evening or night work may be a risk factor for preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age*
  • Posture
  • Pregnancy*
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Women, Working*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance