Standing for longer periods during pregnancy could slow foetal growth, suggests a study by the University Medical Centre in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Researchers also found a link between the amount of time pregnant women spent on their feet at work and size of their babies.
Researchers believe that more physical work may decrease the flow of blood to the placenta, restraining the amount of nutrients and oxygen going to the foetus. Women who stood most of time at their work had babies whose heads were one cm smaller than the average babies. The smaller size did not affect the health of babies at birth.
But, smaller babies are at higher risk of suffering breathing problems, heart defects and conditions affecting their digestion. Some evidence has also shown that they are at higher risk of learning difficulties and developmental problems later in life. To see the impact of standing on foetal growth researchers reviewed nearly five thousand women who were thirty weeks pregnant.
In survey they were asked how many hours they worked in a week and whether they often spent long periods on their feet. About four out of ten of the study participants had jobs where they spent around eight hours on their feet such as hairdressing, sales and working with toddlers.
They survey showed that women who worked more than twenty-five hours a week while spent long periods on their feet consequently had smaller babies than the average. Lead author Prof Alex Burdorf, explained while previous studies have examined how standing for long periods of time may affect birth weight and delay birth, but this is the first study to look at the effects on foetal growth.
They were not surprised that head size was smaller in pregnant women who stand for a long time at work, but they were pleasantly surprised to find that it was only by a modest amount of three percent that is smaller than average at birth, added Prof Burdorf. The study was published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.