Objective: The purpose of this study was to review the literature relating to the impact of work and workplace hazards on pregnancy, as well as to provide suggestions to practitioners caring for working women.
Study design: This study is a review of the literature to date.
Results: Studies examining the impact of work during pregnancy on perinatal outcome have failed to yield consistent findings. An increase in preterm births and low-birth-weight infants has been observed in women who work in adverse conditions or in jobs with known hazardous exposures. No adverse outcomes are seen in women with less strenuous jobs or in women who are able to modify their work activity.
Conclusion: A careful workplace history should be taken by the obstetrician-gynecologist including level of activity, hazardous exposures, and ease of workplace modification. Women whose work requires prolonged standing or walking should be monitored carefully throughout pregnancy for evidence of intrauterine growth restriction or symptoms of preterm labor. The ultimate decision on continuation of employment during pregnancy should be made by the patient after careful counseling by her physician and discussions with her employer.