Pregnant women who work up to their due to date is likely to deliver babies with a lower birth weight, claim a new research by the University of Essex. The study has revealed that the effect of constant working during the later stages of pregnancy was equivalent to that of smoking while pregnant.
For their analysis the research team utilized statistics from three major studies, among two were conducted in the UK and one in the US. The researchers identified more than thirteen children with low birth weight, whose mothers participated in the British Household Panel Survey.
Furthermore samples of more than seventeen thousand women who gave birth between 2000 and 2001, together with more than twelve thousand samples from the National Survey of Family Growth, relating to births in the US between the early 1970s and 1995, shown the similar results.
Earlier studies have also shown that babies with low birthweight are at higher risks of poor health, slow development and could suffer from multiple problems later in life. The birth weight of infants born to young mothers was not affected by their constant work, but in older mothers the effects were more significant.
Lead researcher Prof Marco Francesco, explained the Government should consider incentives for employers to offer more flexible maternity leave. Women who might need a break before, rather than after, their babies are born should be given the opportunity to do so.
Low birth weight is a predictor of many things that happen later, including lower chances of completing school successfully, lower wages and higher mortality. They need to think seriously about parental leave, as this study suggests, the possible benefits of taking leave flexibly before the birth could be quite high, added Prof Francesconi.