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Overtime Work in Pregnancy May Affect Baby's Size

Pregnant Moms Who Spend a Lot of Time on Their Feet May Give Birth to Smaller Babies
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More Frequent Ultrasounds May Be Warranted

"Anecdotally, we have always known that women who work harder have smaller babies," says Cynthia Gyamfi, MD. She is the director of perinatal clinics and an associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Certain changes could help level the playing field for working moms and their kids, she says.

"We can modify the work schedule," she suggests. "We can also monitor growth more frequently with ultrasound among pregnant women who are on their feet a lot or who work long hours."

Ideally, more frequent monitoring would start in the third trimester. That's when these changes first pop up.

Ashley S. Roman, MD, says this study answers a question that she gets asked all the time: Is it safe to continue to work during pregnancy?Roman is a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City.

"Many women don't have the option of either stopping work or cutting back on their work hours for financial reasons," she says in an email.

She points out that differences in the study did not emerge until late in pregnancy and working had no effect on preterm birth or low birth weight. "It is very reassuring that a large study such as this one with over 4,000 women included in the analysis found no harmful effect to working through most of pregnancy."

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