Women who work after they are eight months pregnant give birth to smaller babies according to new study
Working after eight months of pregnancy has the same effect on babies as smoking, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Essex found women who worked after they were eight months pregnant had babies on average around half a pound lighter than those who stopped working between six and eight months.
This is an equal an effect to that of smoking, as babies whose mothers smoke through pregnancy grow smaller in the womb.
Previous research showed babies with low birth weights are at a higher risk of suffering health problems in later life, and are more prone to slow development.
Professor Marco Francesconi, one of the researchers, says the government should consider incentives for employers to offer more flexible maternity leave to women who might need a break before their baby is born.
He adds: ‘We know low birth weight is a predictor of many things that happen later, including lower chances of completing school successfully, lower wages and higher mortality.
‘We need to think seriously about parental leave, because – as this study suggests – the possible benefits of taking leave flexibly before the birth could be quite high.’