RENO, NEV. — The risk of preterm birth is not increased by occupational factors, including hours worked outside the home and jobs requiring physical exertion, Patricia C. Santiago-Munoz, M.D., and colleagues reported in a poster presentation.
These conclusions were based on a large, prospective cohort study involving 1,434 women with prior preterm births who were referred to a specialty clinic, said the researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. There, the women participated in a structured interview regarding their obstetric history, their socioeconomic background, and their work outside the home. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
Other studies have reached conflicting conclusions regarding the risk of outside employment. Some studies have found associations between physically demanding work and preterm birth, while others have found no such associations.
Of the 1,434 women who participated in the study, 25% worked outside the home, and 14% experienced a recurrent preterm birth, defined as a birth at 35 weeks' gestation or less.
There was no significant difference in the risk of preterm birth among women who worked outside the home and those who did not. Among those women who worked outside the home, there was no significant difference in the risk of preterm birth among the women who had physically demanding jobs and those who did not. Nor was there a significant relationship between the number of hours worked and the likelihood of preterm birth.
Furthermore, the lack of help inside the home did not increase a patient's risk, and that risk did not vary along with the number of children cared for in the home.