Work Activity in Pregnancy, Preventive Measures, and the Risk of Delivering a Small-for-Gestational-Age Infant

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We undertook a case-control study to evaluate whether some occupational conditions during pregnancy increase the risk of delivering a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infant and whether taking measures to eliminate these conditions decreases that risk.


The 1536 cases and 4441 controls were selected from 43 898 women who had single live births between January 1997 and March 1999 in Québec, Canada. The women were interviewed by telephone after delivery.


The risk of having an SGA infant increased with an irregular or shiftwork schedule alone and with a cumulative index of the following occupational conditions: night hours, irregular or shift-work schedule, standing, lifting loads, noise, and high psychological demand combined with low social support. When the conditions were not eliminated, the risk increased with the number of conditions (Ptrend=.004; odds ratios=1.00, 1.08, 1.28, 1.43, and 2.29 for 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4-6 conditions, respectively). Elimination of the conditions before 24 weeks of pregnancy brought the risks close to those of unexposed women.


Certain occupational conditions experienced by pregnant women can increase their risk of having an SGA infant, but preventive measures can reduce the risk.

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