Long work hours linked to preterm birth: study

8 November 2023

A new study by Monash University has found that long work hours and shift work are linked to preterm births.

For working women who are pregnant the study found that those working shift work are 63 per cent more at risk.

For those who worked more than 40 hours a week the risk was 44 per cent higher.

The researchers looked at the data from 37 studies from 21 countries which investigated the relationship between the risks for working women and preterm birth (babies born at less than 37 weeks’ gestation).

Monash University’s Professor Alex Collie says this is not to warn women against working whilst pregnant.

“We know that work is generally good for health. We are not suggesting that pregnant women should not work,” he said.

The study found no evidence of increased risk for women who stood at work for long periods or whose jobs required heavy lifting, defined as lifting more than 5kg at a time or more than 50kg over the course of a day.

It was long hours, shift work, physically demanding jobs, or jobs that exposed them to whole-body vibration, that increased risk of preterm birth.

“This study shows that employers of pregnant women should consider modifying jobs that have heavy physical demands. Most jobs are able to be modified in some way to reduce exposure to physical tasks.”

Women make up the majority of the workforce in community pharmacy with 56.74 per cent of pharmacists being female while for pharmacy assistants the number is 89.66 per cent.

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Page last updated on: 15 November 2023