A study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine has found that women with jobs where they stand up for most of the day – such as hairdressing, sales or working with toddlers – had babies who heads were around 1cm smaller than average, reports the BBC.
Prof Alex Burdorf, who led the research, said, while there have been previous studies into the effect standing for long periods had on birth weight or birth delay, this was the first study to look at the effects on foetal growth.
“We were not surprised that head size was smaller in pregnant women who stand for a long time at work, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was only by a modest amount – 3% smaller than average at birth,” he said.
Tim Overton from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said, “There have been studies before that show women who work hard in pregnancy seem to run a higher risk of giving birth to smaller babies. But there is no evidence that this is significant in the long-term health of these babies.”
Gail Johnson, from the Royal College of Midwives, said, “Women need to be reassured that generally working in pregnancy does not increase the risk of poor outcomes.”
Gail added, however, that the research provided the opportunity for women to discuss with their employers any concerns they have around their jobs and their pregnancy so that a solution to problems – such as standing for long periods – can be found.