Women are increasingly working outside of the home while
they're pregnant. After all, there is no such thing as a "free
lunch." But while the effects of work on both the mother and
the unborn child are unclear, maternal work in the third trimester
of pregnancy has been suggested to raise the risks for preterm
delivery, low birth weight, and "pre-eclampsia" - a potentially
fatal condition involving increased blood pressure and abnormal
To determine if working during pregnancy affects blood pressure
and pre-eclampsia risk, the authors of a recent study in the
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health evaluated
nearly 1,000 expectant mothers in Dublin, Ireland. The women
were divided into three groups based on work status: currently
working; not working; or normally working, but not currently
employed. Blood pressure was measured between the 18th and
24th weeks of pregnancy.
currently working were almost five times more likely to develop
pre-eclampsia than nonworking women. Working women also had
higher average daytime blood pressures than nonworking women.
Women who had worked, but were not currently working, were
still approximately three times more likely to suffer from
pre-eclampsia than nonworkers, although their blood pressures
were similar to those of the nonworkers.
If you are currently pregnant or plan to be in the future,
talk to your doctor about ways to avoid pre-eclampsia and
other conditions that can strike during pregnancy. If you
must work while pregnant, try to avoid stressful situations,
long hours, and added responsibilities.
Higgins JR, Walshe JJ, Conroy RM, et al. The relation between
maternal work, ambulatory blood pressure, and pregnancy hypertension.
Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2002:56,
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