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Employment during pregnancy is associated with fewer numbers of preterm births

Combined analysis of 13 European birth cohorts

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Employment during pregnancy is associated with fewer numbers of preterm births

This study, published in Scandinavian Journal of Work Environmental Health and led by CREAL researchers, suggests that, overall, employment during pregnancy is associated with a reduction in the risk of preterm birth and that work in certain occupations may affect pregnancy outcomes. This study provides a good picture of the overall impact on the course of pregnancy in important occupational sectors of the women’s workforce in Europe.

“Among employees, we defined groups of occupations representing the main sectors of employment for women where potential reproductive hazards are considered to be present”, specifies Dr. Maribel Casas, researcher from CREAL, an ISGlobal allied center, and first author of this study.

Useful platform to future prospective studies

The researchers assessed whether maternal employment during pregnancy – overall and in these selected occupational sectors – was associated with birth weight, small for gestational age, term low birth weight, length of gestation, and preterm delivery in a population-based birth cohort design. With this aim the scientists used data from more than 200.000 mother-child pairs enrolled in 13 European birth cohorts.

“We observed that employees had a lower risk of preterm birth than non-employees. Working in most of the occupational sectors studied was not associated with adverse birth outcomes. Being employed as a nurse, however, was associated with lower risk of small for gestational age infants whereas food industry workers had an increased risk of preterm delivery”, explains Casas

“This study represents one of the largest conducted in this field and provides a useful platform on which to base further prospective studies focused on the potential consequences of maternal occupational exposures during pregnancy on child development”, concludes the CREAL researcher.


Casas M, et al. Maternal occupation during pregnancy, birth weight, and length of gestation: combined analysis of 13 European birth cohorts. Scand J Work Environ Health (Original article [online first; 5 May 2015]


Women workers cleaning anchovies. Source: Gaelx (Flickr)


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