If there was ever a reason to ask you boss for a longer maternity leave, this would be it. Latest research has found that women who worked more than 25 hours a
week at "physically demanding" jobs tend to have smaller babies that weigh up to half a pound (200g) less than average at birth.
For the study, researchers asked 4,680 women who were 30 weeks pregnant about how many hours they worked a week and whether they ‘often’ spent long
periods on their feet. Those whose jobs involved standing for long hours (teaching, sales, salespersonel) were the ones most likely to
have smaller children. These babies
tended to weigh in 5-7oz less than average, and the circumference around
their heads was nearly half an inch shorter.
So why is that such a big deal? While smaller babies aren't necessarily unhealthier, they are at higher risk
at health complications which include breathing problems, heart defects and conditions affecting their
digestion. These babies have also been linked to learning difficulties and developmental problems later on.
researchers theorize that this standing for long period of time can affect the blood
flow to the placenta, limiting the amount of nutrients and
oxygen going to the fetus. The researchers wrote in their report that employers should do more to make pregnant
women’s jobs as comfortable as possible.
‘Optimising the work environment is important since participation of
women in the reproductive age in the workforce continues to increase,’
‘Preventive measures reducing certain occupational conditions, such as
shift work, night hours, standing, lifting and noise, have proven to
reduce the risks of adverse birth outcomes.’