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If you’re pregnant and have a part-time job, your baby’s wellbeing may be at risk. This is according to Japanese research by a team attached to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, who found that pregnant woman holding part-time jobs are 2.5 times more likely to have premature births than regular company employees and full-time homemakers.
However, the study did not thoroughly analyse the differences of type of work involved in part-time jobs, so the researchers could only conclude that corporate wellness benefits part-time workers are lower than their full-time counterparts. Such working conditions can make it difficult for you to take days off from work, even when signs of a possible early birth emerge, and the researchers said this may likely account for the higher risk factor.
1,365 pregnant women were involved in the research, of whom 573 were homemakers, 560 were regular company employees and 192 were workers holding part-time jobs. All of the women gave birth at 11 medical facilities around Japan, including the University of Toyama, Juntendo University in Tokyo and Aiiku Hospital, between 2008 and 2010. Premature births were defined as deliveries that took place three weeks or more prior to the initial delivery date.
The results of the study will be announced this month in Sapporo at the annual congress of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. They showed that 7.5% of the women studied gave birth prematurely, with the ratio among women in part-time or other irregular work being 12.5%. After statistical processing, the risk for such women was 2.54 times higher than for homemakers, as the ratio of premature births for regular company employees and homemakers was 6.6% and 6.5% respectively.
Midori Ito, who heads the Action Centre for Working Women, explained that many part-time workers are in service industry jobs that require them to stand while working. ‘In order to confirm the causal relationship for the risk of premature births, there will be a need for a study of the detailed contents of the work as well as the work environment, including whether days off can be taken,’ Ito noted. ‘Regardless of whether the women are regular company employees or part-time workers, there is a need to take into consideration their working conditions.’