This is worse than smoking when you are pregnant
Some disturbing news from a study just out of Essex in England.
Working during the late stages of pregnancy is as bad as smoking.
Or so says the study by University of Essex which found that women who work up to their due date are likely to have babies with a lower birth weight.
The study found that women who worked into their ninth month of pregnancy had babies on average around around 230 grams lighter than those who stopped work between six and eight months,
One of the authors of the study, Prof Marco Francesconi, said the [English] government should consider incentives for employers to offer more flexible maternity leave to women who might need a break before, rather than after, their babies were born.
He said: "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."
The study showed the birth weight of babies born to working mums under the age of 24 was not affected, however older mothers who continued working appeared to have a bigger impact on their baby's birth weight.
The research, conducted by three economists, Francesconi, Emilia Del Bono and John Ermisch, is published in the July edition of the Journal of Labour Economics, published by the University of Chicago.
So where does this leave us in Australia?
Ninemsn reports Michael Permezel, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Melbourne, told ninemsn that overhauling maternity leave requirements is not necessary.
"There will be some women with more sedentary activities and many mothers actually say they do a lot less at work than when they are at home having to look after other children," he said.
"But on the other hand there are plenty of mothers who are too tired and need to stop."
Professor Permezel recommends women listen to their own bodies.
"The key message is to individualise — she should follow her body's message," he said.
When did you leave work to have your baby?