Women with strenuous jobs may have heavier babies

Study shows that women who have physically demanding jobs may have babies with a higher birth weight and a higher risk of obesity in later life

By Sally J. Hall

Researchers have found, for the first time, that having a very physical job during pregnancy may affect their baby in a negative way. These jobs might involve lifting heavy objects, bending repeatedly or standing for long periods of time.

The New Jersey Department of Health researchers looked at data on both the mother’s and the baby’s health, as well as studying what jobs they were engaged in. It was found that mothers who worked in physically demanding jobs are 17 per cent more likely to have a baby with a birth weight in excess of 4,000 grams or 8.8 pounds. While this might not seem to be a problem, there is a risk that these babies may be overweight as when they reach adolescence. This set of outcomes also increases the mother’s risk of getting breast cancer.

The study is called “Maternal and fetal health effects of working during pregnancy” by professor of economics at Lehigh University, Muhze Yang and professor of economics at Bentley University Dhaval Dave. It is published in the Review of Economics of the Household.

“Our findings also indicate an understudied link between gestational diabetes, which is a known risk factor for fetal macrosomia, and intensive physical activities at work during pregnancy,” said Yang. Fetal macrosomia refers to a baby with a higher than usual birth weight.

The report leads the way to suggest that legislation for working pregnant women may need to be addressed to help offer good outcomes for both mother and child.

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