Working Late In Pregnancy As Dangerous As Smoking, Study Says

working late in pregnancy

A few hours after Yahoo announced to the world that Marissa Mayer would be its new CEO, Mayer announced to the world that she was six months pregnant. She was going to work until her due date, she told Fortune magazine, and would only take a few weeks off with her newborn.

It was a bold declaration. Now, a new study suggests, it might even be a dangerous one. The study, published in the July edition of the Journal of Labour Economics (via Global News Online), shows that working in the last month of pregnancy can have as damaging an effect on a baby's weight as smoking.

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The study analyzed data from three national surveys, two in the U.K. and one in the U.S. The University of Essex researchers found that working until your water breaks, compared to stopping work between six and eight months, resulted in a newborn who weighed an average of half a pound less -- about a 7 percent drop, given that the average newborn in those countries weighs between between 5.5 pounds to 9.9 pounds. That's slightly less or slightly more of a drop than if the mother smokes, according to various studies. The researchers say possible reasons for this could be fatigue and stress, which hurt the nutritional environment in the womb, according to Global News Online, a Canadian website.

It's also a more dramatic result than if a pregnant woman is hospitalized due to an assault during her pregnancy. According to a study of 5 million pregnant women in California over a 10-year period, infants born to assaulted women weigh one-third of a pound less, on average.

Most women do work into their ninth month of pregnancy. Of women who were pregnant with their first child between 2001 and 2003, 80 percent worked one month or less before their child's birth, compared to 35 percent in 1961-65, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

American women who have worked at a company for at least a year, and for a company that employs at least 50 people at their location, are allowed to take up to 12 weeks off when they have a child, under the Family and Medical Leave Act. That time off doesn't have to paid, though, and almost half of new mothers in this country don't receive any paid leave at all, including 82 percent of new mothers without a high school degree.

For these women, it comes down to a trade off: working all nine months, and risking a slightly lower birth weight for their child; or not working, and risking how they'll pay for everything else that baby is going to need.



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Filed under: Working Parents

Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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Marguerite

so stupid. i wish i had half the money they pay for these assinine studies. i worked into my ninth month and my daughter was 7 .5 lbs.

August 01 2012 at 8:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
llpersgard

I am so sick and tired of studies done, and telling pregnant women what they can an cannot do! I was lifting weights, horseback riding, bike riding, roller bladeing, and working up to the time my water broke (oh, and I also did not breast feed). He is now a healthy, well built, compassionate, and smart (straight A) 16 year old man. Oh, and we also go to concerts together (Slipknot, Tool, Distrubed, etc) and R rated movies, since he was probably nine or ten. And he also plays a mean guitar and can sing. If I sound proud, you're darn right I am.

August 01 2012 at 7:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to llpersgard's comment
Amie Nogrady

I was so ready to thumbs up your comment until you added the whole "straight" thing. Who cares if he is straight or gay with all of the other qualities that you listed? That would have changed how you felt about him?

August 01 2012 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Amie Nogrady's comment
bostonhckybaby91

Uhmmm reread that. She said Straight A, not straight as in not gay..smh..

August 01 2012 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
nikkitytom

Damn .... I love this reply. I'm so sick of all the hyped-up nonsense about every minute detail of our daily lives. And people buy into the nonsense. You've got it wired!

My sister rode her horse into the ninth month ... when she got kicked in the eye as she was examining one of its hooves, her doctors insisted she waas a victim of domestic abuse No one would believe she'd been riding that horse. She did get off for the last couple of weeks and just used the time to mend her pasture fences.

She has two fantastic boys .... both of them honor students .... and one of them now at 25, a self-made millionnaire. No fussing from my sister. She insisted on HER life too ....

August 01 2012 at 9:59 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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