Work activities and risk of prematurity, low birth weight and pre-eclampsia: an updated review with meta-analysis

MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, , Southampton, UK.
Occupational and environmental medicine (Impact Factor: 3.23). 01/2013; 70(4). DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2012-101032
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVES: We assessed the evidence relating preterm delivery (PTD), low birth weight, small for gestational age (SGA), pre-eclampsia and gestational hypertension to five occupational exposures (working hours, shift work, lifting, standing and physical workload). We conducted a systematic search in Medline and Embase (1966 to 2011), updating a previous search with a further 6 years of observations. METHODS: As before, combinations of keywords and medical subject headings were used. Each relevant paper was assessed for completeness of reporting and potential for important bias or confounding, and its effect estimates abstracted. Where similar definitions of exposure and outcome existed we calculated pooled estimates of relative risk (RR) in meta-analysis. RESULTS: Analysis was based on 86 reports (32 cohort investigations, 57 with usable data on PTD, 54 on birth weight and 11 on pre-eclampsia/gestational hypertension); 33 reports were new to this review. For PTD, findings across a substantial evidence base were generally consistent, effectively ruling out large effects (eg, RR>1.2). Larger and higher quality studies were less positive, while meta-estimates of risk were smaller than in previous analyses and best estimates pointed to modest or null effects (RR 1.04 to 1.18). For SGA, the position was similar but meta-estimates were even closer to the null (eight of nine RRs≤1.07). For pre-eclampsia/gestational hypertension the evidence base remains insufficient. CONCLUSIONS: The balance of evidence is against large effects for the associations investigated. As the evidence base has grown, estimates of risk in relation to these outcomes have become smaller.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Abstract Gender (socially-determined) differences in occupations, employment and working conditions, task assignments, and work methods that affect exposure to health risks are increasingly documented. Interactions of (biologically-influenced) sex differences with workplace parameters may also influence exposure levels. During field studies, ergonomists learn a lot about gender and sex that can be important when generating and testing hypotheses about the mechanisms that link workplace exposures to health outcomes. Prolonged standing is common in North America; almost half (45%) of Québec workers spend more than three quarters of their working time on their feet and 40% of these cannot sit at will. This posture has been linked to chronic back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the lower limbs, but many health professionals suggest workers should stand rather than sit at work. We ask: (1) Given the fact that roughly the same proportion of men and women stand at work, what does a gender-sensitive analysis add to our ability to detect and thus prevent work-related MSDs? (2) How does ergonomics research inform gender-sensitive analysis of occupational health data? (3) What do researchers need to know in order to orient interventions to improve general working postures? We have sought answers to these questions through collaborative research with specialists in epidemiology, occupational medicine, biomechanics and physiology, carried out in partnership with public health organisations, community groups and unions. We conclude that failure to characterize prolonged static standing and to apply gender-sensitive analysis can confuse assessment of musculoskeletal and circulatory effects of working postures. We suggest that prolonged static sitting and standing postures can and should be avoided by changes to workplace organization and environments. Research is needed to define optimal walking speeds and arrive at optimal ratios of sitting, standing and walking in the workplace.
    Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene 12/2014; 12(3). DOI:10.1080/15459624.2014.987388 · 1.21 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We examined the association between occupational lifting during pregnancy and risk of fetal death and preterm birth using a job exposure matrix (JEM). For 68,086 occupationally active women in the Danish National Birth Cohort, interview information on occupational lifting was collected around gestational week 16. We established a JEM based on information from women, who were still pregnant when interviewed. The JEM provided mean total loads lifted per day within homogeneous exposure groups as informed by job and industry codes. All women were assigned an exposure estimate from the JEM. We used Cox regression models with gestational age as underlying time variable and adjustment for covariates. We observed 2,717 fetal deaths and 3,128 preterm births within the study cohort. No exposure-response relation was observed for fetal death, but for women with a prior fetal death, we found a hazard ratio (HR) of 2.87 (95% CI 1.37, 6.01) for stillbirth (fetal death ≥22 completed gestational weeks) among those who lifted >200 kg/day. For preterm birth, we found an exposure-response relation for primigravid women, reaching a HR of 1.43 (95% CI 1.13, 1.80) for total loads >200 kg per day. These findings correspond to an excess fraction of 11% for stillbirth and 10% for preterm birth. We found an increased risk of stillbirth among women with a prior fetal death, who lifted >200 kg/day, and an exposure-response relationship between occupational lifting and preterm birth among primigravid women. The study adds to a large body of prospective studies on occupational lifting and adverse pregnancy outcomes by refined exposure assessment.
    PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e90550. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0090550 · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: It has been suggested that the handling of heavy loads during pregnancy is associated with impaired fetal growth. We examined the association between quantity and frequency of maternal occupational lifting and the child's size at birth, measured by weight, length, ponderal index, small-for-gestational-age (SGA), abdominal circumference, head circumference, and placental weight. We analyzed birth size from the Danish Medical Birth Registry of 66 693 live-born children in the Danish National Birth Cohort according to the mother's self-reported information on occupational lifting from telephone interviews around gestational week 16. Data were collected in the period 1996-2002. We used linear and logistic regression models and adjusted for confounders. In the fully adjusted models, most of the mean differences in birth size measures had values indicating a smaller size of offspring among women with occupational lifting versus women with no lifting, but the differences were very small, and there was a statistically significant trend only for placental weight showing lighter weight with increasing number of kilos lifted per day. In jobs likely to include person-lifting, we found increased odds of SGA among children of women who lifted 501-1000 kilos per day [odds ratio (OR) 1.34, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.98-1.83] and >1000 kilos per day (OR 1.51, 95% CI 0.83-2.76) compared to no lifting. In jobs with no person-lifting, occupational lifting was not associated with SGA. Overall, we observed no strong support for an association between maternal occupational lifting and impaired size at birth. Our data indicated a potential association between lifting and SGA among offspring of women in occupations that are likely to include person-lifting. These results should, however, be interpreted with caution due to limited statistical power, and we suggest that future studies include detailed, individual information on job functions and ergonomic routines of lifting procedures.
    Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health 03/2014; 40(4). DOI:10.5271/sjweh.3422 · 3.10 Impact Factor