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Year : 2011  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 238-239

Work stress in first trimester causes low birth weight baby

Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India

Date of Submission29-Sep-2010
Date of Acceptance06-Aug-2011
Date of Web Publication22-Oct-2011

Correspondence Address:
Ritesh Singh
Department of Community Medicine, Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0970-0218.86530

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How to cite this article:
Singh R, Rustagi N. Work stress in first trimester causes low birth weight baby. Indian J Community Med 2011;36:238-9

How to cite this URL:
Singh R, Rustagi N. Work stress in first trimester causes low birth weight baby. Indian J Community Med [serial online] 2011 [cited 2021 Sep 17];36:238-9. Available from: https://www.ijcm.org.in/text.asp?2011/36/3/238/86530


Birth weight is an important indicator of the survival of a newborn. Among the many maternal factors associated with low birth weight of the infant, physical activity and the job pressure of the women during her pregnancy are the important ones and also less studied. Association between parental occupation and risk of small for gestation age (SGA) births were seen in 8, 16, 310 first singleton live births in Sweden. After adjusting for other factors, several maternal occupational groups involving more job strain had a significantly higher risk of SGA birth. [1] It has been shown that mothers exposed to severe life events during pregnancy have infants with significantly lower birth weight. [2] The probable mechanism of stress-related effects on birth weight may be changes in lifestyle due to the exposure and stress-related dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) during pregnancy. Production of corticotropin-releasing hormone appears to be stress sensitive; this neuropeptide may play a critical role in the physiological mediation among stressful experiences and work stress and risk of preterm birth or low birth weight. The timing of these exposures is crucial. Typically, the pregnant women reduce their working hours or workloads at the end of their pregnancy, but the experimental data and emerging theory point to the first rather than the second or third trimester as a crucial period for regulating the relevant fetal hormonal set points, in particular the HPA. [3]

A team from University College Dublin, Ireland, examined 676 women who were working at the time of their first prenatal visit and delivered a single baby. Potential risk factors at work were defined as high physical work demands and working long hours (40 hours or more per week). Results showed significant and strong associations between these high physical work demands and low birth weight. Overall, babies born to women who were exposed to at least two of the four occupational risk factors had a nearly five-fold risk of having a low birth weight and a more than five-fold risk of preterm delivery. [4]

In India the number of women in work force is increasing. They work till late in the pregnancy to get the maximum maternity leave during the last few days of the pregnancy and early postpartum days to take care of their babies. More research is needed in developing countries to assess the association between job stress during the first and mid-trimester and pregnancy outcome.

   References Top

1.Li X, Sundquist J, Sundquist K. Parental occupation and risk of small-for-gestational-age births: A nationwide epidemiological study in Sweden. Hum Reprod 2010;25:1044-50.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Khashan AS, McNamee R, Abel KM, Pedersen MG, Webb RT, Kenny LC, et al. Reduced infant birthweight consequent upon maternal exposure to severe life events. Psychosom Med 2008;70:688-94.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Borodulin K, Evenson KR, Herring AH. Physical activity patterns during pregnancy through postpartum. BMC Womens Health 2009;9:32. Available from: URL: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6874/9/32. [Last accessed on 2010 Mar 13].  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Niedhammer I, O'Mahony D, Daly S, Morrison JJ, Kelleher CC; Lifeways Cross-Generation Cohort Study Steering Group. Occupational predictors of pregnancy outcomes in Irish working women in the Lifeways cohort. BJOG 2009;116:943-52.  Back to cited text no. 4

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