Healthcare: On the Agenda - On your feet jobs slow baby growth

In a nutshell

A UK study shows that standing for long periods of time during pregnancy may have a detrimental effect on the development of a baby.

About the study

The study by Occupational and Environmental Medicine (a BMJ Group journal) assessed the foetal growth rates of 4,680 mums-to-be from early pregnancy onwards between 2002 and 2006. Researchers quizzed women who were midway through their pregnancy about their working conditions and the physical demands of their jobs, including whether these included lifting, long periods of standing or walking, night shifts and long working hours.


Women who spent an average eight hours a day on their feet during their pregnancy, in jobs such as sales, childcare and teaching, had babies whose heads were three per cent smaller than average, implying a slower growth rate.

PR strategy

The press release was sent out to the BMJ's international database of contacts and flagged up on social media by the BMJ team. Professor Alex Burdorf, of University Medical Centre Rotterdam, was put up for interview.

Media coverage

Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, The Times and BBC online and trade press all covered the report.

1cm - Average reduction in the size of a baby's head if the pregnant mother had been standing most of the time

40 - Hours of work a week that led to smaller babies.

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