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article imageWorking moms during pregnancy are as harmful on babies as smokers

By Nancy Houser     Jul 31, 2012 in Health
A new study from England's University of Essex is using data from two major UK studies and one major U.S. study. It found that the fetus of working pregnant mothers over 24 years old carries the same effects as mothers who smoke while they are pregnant.
"The University of Essex is one of the UK's leading academic institutions with an international reputation for the quality of its research and teaching, particularly in the social sciences. Based on the quality of its research, the University of Essex has been ranked ninth in the UK in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise."
Mothers over 24 years of age who work from six to eight months after the baby is conceived are more susceptible to birthing issues. These older mothers had babies who weighed half a pound less at birth than mothers who quit working earlier in the pregnancy. Babies who are born with lower birth rates are at risk for an overabundance of problems down the line.
Expectant mothers who are normal-sized and their baby is born with a low birth weight demonstrates the child has experienced poor nutrition, low oxygen, higher than normal stress, or has experienced excess stress and problems in the mother's womb. According to, low birth weight also has a lot to do with many physical and mental disorders --- low IQ and being at risk for psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia.
According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, expectant teenage mothers in the U.S. give birth to babies who will be at risk for long-term problems, even though statistics have been dropping lately. In major areas of life, this includes school failures, poverty throughout their lives, physical and/or mental illness. Additionally, the teenage mother herself is at risk for these problems, with added reactions of anger, denial and guilt she will carry during the pregnancy. This adds high levels of stress to her and her fetus, with the newborn at risk for neglect and abuse.
Also, the study of 7,000 women that was conducted by Amsterdam Born Children and their Development research group found that mothers suffering from stress are more likely to have babies that cry excessively. Taken into effect were "women’s
employment and hours of paid work."
Silhouette of pregnant woman
Silhouette of pregnant woman
Photo by Mahalie
Another study at Quebec showed that mothers who continue to work for longer periods of time places higher levels of stress on the fetus than anything else. Pregnant mothers are under a lot of stress while at work, which significantly stalls the child's brain development. As they grow, the stress during pregnancy on the mother and infant reduces their intelligent, causes them to become more stressed and anxious, developing bad behaviour and personality problems as they grow up.
As data from working pregnant mothers is gathered, newborn children who are born to stressful mothers and have strong stress reactions have a tendency to grow up to be overly-sensitive to stress, reacting negatively when exposed to stressful conditions in their life.
It is obvious from current studies that high levels of stress are bad for the fetus when the mother chooses to work from six months and on during pregnancy. More and more research is suggesting that babies that have the genes associated with mental illness, such as schizophrenia, can develop the illness more so when triggered under stress as a fetus. Additionally, the fetus who is more sensitive to stress, while moderate levels of occasional maternal psychological stress during pregnancy, may actually enhance fetal maturation.
Pregnant women are increasingly choosing to work longer, due to the poor economy, new discrimination laws and companies paying for pregnancy time off. But NBC News reports that a Netherlands study has found that pregnant women who stand for long hours, such as working at factories, will slow down the babies growth.
"In the study, women who stood for long periods at work during pregnancy had babies whose heads were, on average, 1 centimeter (or 3 percent) smaller in circumference than those of the average baby at birth... present from the third trimester on."
However, women who choose to work have fewer pregnancy complications, needing to apply a good combination of sitting, standing and walking during their work day to avoid blood clots and allow good blood flow to the fetus.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry - "When children have children"
The Stir
Schizophrenia - "Pregnancy and Schizophrenia - The Importance of Low Stress During Pregnancy for Healthy Brain Development"
Schizophrenia - "Fetal Programming"
Schizophrenia - "Stress Impact on Mother and Child during Pregnancy"
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