Maternal and Fetal Health Effects of Working during Pregnancy
We provide some of the first empirical evidence of maternal and fetal health effects of working during pregnancy by using a unique dataset from the New Jersey Department of Health that includes information not only on pregnancy and birth outcomes but also on maternal employment. We match the mother’s occupation with the Metabolic Equivalent of Task, provided by the Census Occupational Classification System and used as a measure for the strenuousness of the work activities performed. We find robust evidence that working in a relatively more strenuous job during pregnancy raises the likelihood of fetal macrosomia by about 1.5 percentage points. There are no statistically or economically significant effects on other birth outcomes. Our study further indicates an under-studied link between gestational diabetes (a known risk factor for fetal macrosomia) and intensive physical activities at work during pregnancy, potentially mediated by disrupted sleep due to greater work intensity.
We thank Wei Fu and Chia-Lun Liu for excellent research assistance. We also thank Sebastian Tello-Trillo, Thanh Tam Nguyen, participants at the 2018 Annual Conference of the Southern Economic Association, and participants at the 2019 Annual Conference of the Eastern Economic Association for their helpful comments and suggestions. All errors are our own. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Dhaval M. Dave & Muzhe Yang, 2022. "Maternal and fetal health effects of working during pregnancy," Review of Economics of the Household, vol 20(1), pages 57-102.