JOURNAL ARTICLE

The relation between psychosocial job strain, and preterm delivery and low birthweight for gestational age

T B Henriksen, M Hedegaard, N J Secher
International Journal of Epidemiology 1994, 23 (4): 764-74
8002191

BACKGROUND: The aim of this cohort study was to evaluate the relationship between psychosocial job demands and job control during pregnancy and risk of small-for-gestational age (SGA) and preterm delivery.

METHODS: We studied 8711 Danish women with singleton pregnancies between 1989 and 1991. Information about medical and obstetric history, general psychosocial and lifestyle factors and occupational exposures were collected at 16 weeks gestation. The analyses were restricted to 3503 respondents who worked at least 30 hours per week during the first trimester. The women's scores on both the job demand and job control questionnaire were initially dichotomized at the median score, and combined into four exposure categories: relaxed jobs (low demands and high control), active jobs (high demands and high control), passive jobs (low demands and low control), and high-strain jobs (high demands and low control).

RESULTS: After adjustment for confounders, women with relaxed jobs had the lowest risk of SGA and preterm delivery. Compared to this group the odds ratio (OR) for SGA delivery among women with passive jobs was 1.3 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.9-1.9), with high-strain jobs 1.1 (95% CI: 0.7-1.6), and with active jobs 1.1 (95% CI: 0.8-1.7). Compared to women with relaxed jobs, the OR for preterm delivery among women with passive jobs was 1.4 (95% CI: 0.8-2.3), high-strain jobs 1.3 (95% CI: 0.7-2.2) and active jobs 1.2 (95% CI: 0.7-2.2). All risks were consistently increased in women with low job control. The risks were higher for preterm than for SGA deliveries. However, none of the findings were statistically significant.

CONCLUSIONS: The influence of work-related psychosocial strain on the risk of SGA and preterm delivery seems to be small in countries with highly developed social support systems and few other work-related hazards.

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