1. Tiedje, Linda Beth

Article Content

Croteau, A., Marcoux, S., & Brisson, C. (2006). American Journal of Public Health, 96, 846-855.


The majority of pregnant women are employed, which makes studies of work activity during pregnancy especially important. This study examined the association between work conditions such as schedule, posture, physical effort and psychosocial factors, with the risk of delivering a small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infant.

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Mothers were interviewed by phone within 30 days of birth. Only women with single, live births were chosen, resulting in 1,536 working women exposed to certain working conditions and 4,441 controls being interviewed. Workers exposed to a given working condition were divided into three groups according to whether the condition was eliminated before 24 weeks, late in pregnancy, or not at all.


The risk of having an SGA infant was most associated with an irregular or shift-work schedule. Accumulating occupational conditions such as standing, lifting loads, noise, and high psychological demand with low support also contributed to risk of an SGA baby. The good news was that eliminating those factors before the 24th week of pregnancy brought the odds down to those of unexposed women.


The results of this study are important for many reasons. First, many nurses fall into the "irregular or shift work" category and thus are at risk for SGA infants. Second, there is a growing body of research about shift work that is important for mothers and families. Strazdins et al. (2006) report that nonstandard work schedules are associated with worse family functioning, more depressive symptoms, and less effective parenting. This is especially important because among dual-earner families, as many as three out of four have at least one parent working evenings, nights, or on weekends, as tag team parenting and shift work is a strategy for coping with two jobs without childcare costs. Is that really best? Shift parenting, in addition affecting pregnancy outcomes, may mean less time with partners and less family time together, reducing opportunities for support and companionship.


Linda Beth Tiedje




Strazdins, L., Clements, M. S., Korda, R. J., Broom, D. H., & D'Souza, R. M. (2006). Unsociable work? Nonstandard work schedules, family relationships, and children's well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 394-410. [Context Link]