April/May 2013 (vol. 09/6)

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Research Plus

Pregnancy outcomes and work activity

This updated evidence review and meta-analysis provides more precise estimates of the risks of preterm delivery (PTD), low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA), pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension associated with occupational exposures. Updating a 2007 review, this latest study (33 papers added to the original 53) indicates that any excess risks are even smaller than previously thought. For PTD, the meta- estimates for relative risk were 1.23 (95% confidence interval 1.13–1.34) for long working hours; 1.22 (CI1.12–1.33) for prolonged standing; and 1.14 (CI 1.01–1.30) for shiftwork. For SGA, the relative risks were 1.04 (CI 0.94–1.16), 1.07 (CI 0.94–1.22), and 1.01 (CI 0.92–1.10), respectively. The exposure measures used in studies on lifting and physical workload were too heterogeneous to allow a meta-analysis but the reported relative risks were small (eg for PTD, median RR for lifting = 1.12, and for physical workload = 1.20). The evidence base was insufficient to produce risk estimates for pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension. The review was funded by NHS Health at Work and the RCP Health and Work Development Unit.


Occupational and Environmental Medicine 2013; online first: doi: 10.1136/oemed-2012-101032. http://oem.bmj.com/content/early/2013/01/22/oemed-2012-101032.abstract


Occupational Health at Work April/May 2013 (vol. 09/6) pp16