Working During Late Pregnancy May Be as Dangerous to Your Baby as Smoking, According to a New Study

Not that we needed another reason to convince us that extended maternity leave should be an option for all working women, but new research shows when moms-to-be stayed on the job past eight months of pregnancy, their babies weighed less than those born to moms who stopped working earlier.

The Guardian in London reports the study out of the University of Essex, using data from one U.S. report and two U.K. studies, found the half (.5) pound average difference was the same weight disparity shown between smoking and non-smoking pregnant moms. [Enter your own work-can-be-dangerous-to-your-health joke here.]

And the work/third trimester baby weight relationship was more notable for women who had less education (who may hold more physically taxing positions) and only appeared to affect moms over age 24, according to the newspaper.

"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," co-author Marco Francesconi tells The Guardian. "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."

No argument here.

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