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Delayed maternity leave as harmful as smoking

The risks to your baby if you work after 8 months of pregnancy are significant.
pregnant working woman
By Scott Dunlop

Pic: Shutterstock

Article originally in Parent24

Some moms-to-be are proud of the fact that they worked right up until the last minute while pregnant, while others don’t have the luxury of going on maternity leave earlier than 8 months. A recent study has shown significant developmental differences in babies whose moms worked after 8 months pregnancy, according to the Guardian.

Just as bad as smoking?

Babies born to moms who worked until 8 months or beyond were found to be, on average, 230g lighter than babies whose moms stopped working between 6 and 8 months. This difference in birth weight is comparable to babies born to moms who smoked during pregnancy, as smoking causes babies to develop at a slower rate.

Previous research has also shown that babies with lower birth weights face higher risks of poor health and slow development, and are found to experience other problems later in life, too.

Other findings from the study showed that:

  • The birth weights of babies born to younger moms (under 24) were not affected by working until late in pregnancy.
  • The older the mom, the more likelihood of the baby encountering developmental issues.
  • Stopping work earlier was shown to be beneficial for women with lower levels of education, the reason given is that it may be linked to these women having to do more physically demanding work.

Challenges faced by babies born with lower birth weights include poorer chances of completing schooling successfully, lower wages and higher mortality rates, giving strong arguments for increased governmental subsidisation of maternity leave. Compared with previous decades, more women are choosing (or having) to work later in pregnancy than ever before.

When do you plan on going on maternity leave?


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