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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Washington: Study Shows Link Between Maternal Employment ‘Precarity’ and Infant Low Birth Weight

Women who experience high employment precarity prior to or during pregnancy have a 48 percent higher risk of delivering low-birth-weight infants than women with low employment precarity, indicates a study led by researchers at the University of Washington School of Public Health.

Employment precarity refers to working conditions that contribute to the instability of a job, such as unpredictable scheduling and lack of benefits. Investigators found that the connection between employment precarity and the delivery of a low-birth-weight infant was strongest among black and Hispanic mothers. Results of the study were published January 9 in BMJ Open.

This is the first study to apply a multidimensional definition of employment precarity to the examination of low birth weight using a large, nationally representative sample of women in the United States.

“What pregnant individuals have access to in the workplace — in terms of health insurance, adequate income and regular working hours, among other factors — has a direct impact on their pregnancies and the health of their babies,” says senior author Dr. Anjum Hajat, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health. “We can use the results of this study to enact social policies that better support people who work during pregnancy,” says Dr. Hajat.

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