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Night-Shift Nurses at Higher Risk of Early Preterm Birth

Working part-time lowers risk of premature delivery for nurses

THURSDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Nurses who work part-time may be at lower risk of preterm birth, while those who work night shifts are at higher risk of early, but not late, preterm birth, according to research published in the January issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Christina C. Lawson, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Cincinnati, and colleagues used data from the Nurses' Health Study II, a national cohort of 116,608 female nurses aged 25 to 42 years at enrollment, to analyze the relative risk of preterm birth according to work schedule, physical factors and chemical and X-ray exposure.

Nurses who worked 20 hours per week or less were at lower risk of preterm birth than their counterparts who worked full-time (relative risk, 0.7), the investigators found. Delivery before 32 weeks' gestation was three times more common among nurses who worked night shifts, but shift patterns did not appear to affect the risk of later preterm birth, the data revealed. There were 11 self-reported cases of exposure to sterilizing agents, and among these, there was a higher risk of preterm birth (RR, 1.9), the researchers report.

"Prolonged standing and heavy lifting were weak predictors of preterm birth, whereas other work exposures common to nurses were not related, including rotating shift work, X-ray radiation or other chemical exposures," the authors write.

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