Women who work shifts have lower fertility and increased risk of miscarriage

July 9, 2013 22:20 by PrideAngelAdmin
Women who work shifts are more likely to have reduced fertility levels, new research has revealed. Shift work also increases the chance of menstrual disruption, while night work increases the risk of miscarriage, the study found.

The annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in London heard that previous research has linked shift work, which causes sleep deprivation and disruption to the body clock, with ill health.

But little was known about the effects of shift work on reproductive health and fertility. Dr Linden Stocker headed a study by the University of Southampton which found links between shift patterns and fertility problems. The study is a meta-analysis of all studies on the subject published between 1969 and January 2013 and included data on 119,345 women.

- Women who work shifts are 80% more likely to have fertility problems such as miscarriage
- Women who work shifts have a 33% higher chance of disrupted periods
- Women who work nights are 29 per cent more likely to have a miscarriage
- Shift work can cause sleep deprivation and disruption to the body clock, both of which are associated with ill health

Women who work shifts are more likely to have reduced fertility levels. Shift work also increases the chance of menstrual disruption, while night work increases the risk of miscarriage But little was known about the effects of shift work on reproductive health and fertility. Dr Linden Stocker headed a study by the University of Southampton which found links between shift patterns and fertility problems.

The study is a meta-analysis of all studies on the subject published between 1969 and January 2013 and included data on 119,345 women. It found that those working shifts had a 33 per cent higher rate of menstrual disruption than those working regular hours, and an 80 per cent increased rate of reduced fertility.

Women who worked only nights did not have an increased risk of menstrual disruption or difficulty conceiving, but they did have a 29 per cent increased rate of miscarriage. The investigators describe their findings as ‘novel’, but in keeping with other studies.

Shift work causes sleep deprivation and disruption to the body clock both of which are associated with ill health Dr Stocker said: ‘If replicated, our findings have implications for women attempting to become pregnant, as well as for their employers.’ She added: ‘Whilst we have demonstrated an association between shift work and negative early reproductive outcomes, we have not proven causation.

‘In humans, the long-term effects of altering circadian rhythms are inherently difficult to study. As a proxy measure, the sleep disruption demonstrated by the shift workers in our study creates short- and long-term biological disturbances. ‘Shift workers adopt poor sleep hygiene, suffer sleep deprivation and develop activity levels that are out-of-sync with their body clock. ‘However, if our results are confirmed by other studies, there may be implications for shift workers and their reproductive plans. ‘More friendly shift patterns, with less impact on circadian rhythm, could be adopted where practical - although the optimal shift pattern required to maximise reproductive potential is yet to be established.’

She said that the underlying biological disturbances involved in reproductive difficulties ‘are complex and not the same across all the disease processes’. ‘Indeed,’ she said, ‘it is probable that completely different causes underlie menstrual dysfunction, miscarriage and subfertility. ‘This may explain why the effects of different types of shift work are seen in some groups of women, but not others.’

Article: 9th July 2013 www.dailymail.co.uk

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Stress in pregnancy causes premature babies and risk of miscarrying boys

December 10, 2011 23:04 by PrideAngelAdmin
stressed in pregnancy Mothers-to-be who are highly stressed during the second and third month of pregnancy are more at risk of giving birth prematurely and losing boy babies, say researchers. A new study shows exposure to stress can shorten the length of pregnancy, making it more likely that babies will be born early and for boys to be miscarried.

It is the first time stress has been shown to affect the balance between the sexes, known as the sex ratio, which normally favours an excess in the number of boys being born. It has been described as nature's way of balancing an increased risk of premature death in young men, starting in infancy.

The latest findings suggest the extra risk to boys starts even earlier – in the womb. The results come from a study investigating the effect on pregnant women of the stress caused by the 2005 Tarapaca earthquake in Chile.

But US researchers claim there could be implications for pregnant women in more normally stressful situations, because the effects are independent of poverty, bad housing and poor diet. Professors Florencia Torche and Karine Kleinhaus, of New York University, analysed birth certificates of all babies born between 2004-2006 in Chile, where there are 200,000 births a year. The magnitude of the earthquake was measured at 7.9, which is classified as ‘disastrous’.

The researchers found that women who lived closest to the quake during their second and third months of pregnancy had shorter pregnancies and were at higher risk of delivering pre-term, before 37 weeks gestation. The pregnancies of women exposed to the earthquake in the second month of pregnancy were on average 1.3 days shorter than those in the unaffected areas of Chile. The pregnancies of those exposed in the third month were almost two days shorter.

Normally, about six in 100 women had a pre-term birth, but among women exposed to the earthquake in the third month of pregnancy, this rose by 3.4 per cent, meaning more than nine women in 100 delivered their babies early. The researchers found a decline in the sex ratio among those exposed to the earthquake in the third month of 5.8 per cent, meaning fewer boy babies survived to delivery.

The study is published online in the leading reproductive medicine journal Human Reproduction. Prof Kleinhaus, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, and Environmental Medicine, said ‘Generally, there are more male than female live births.

‘The ratio of male to female births is approximately 51:49 – in other words, out of every 100 births, 51 will be boys. ‘Our findings indicate a 5.8 per cent decline in this proportion, which would translate into a ratio of 45 male births per 100 births, so that there are now more female than male births. This is a significant change for this type of measure.’

Previous research has suggested in times of stress women are more likely to miscarry boys because they grow larger than girls and require more sustenance from the mother, and they may also be less robust than females and not adapt their development to a stressful environment in the womb. Prof Torche said ‘Our findings on a decreased sex ratio support this hypothesis and suggest that stress may affect the viability of male births.

She said the study provided strong evidence that stress independently affected the outcome of pregnancies, rather than being a side-effect of poor housing, poverty and bad diet. ‘In terms of implications, it is clearly unrealistic to recommend avoiding natural disasters. However, this research suggests the need to improve access to healthcare for women from the onset of pregnancy and even before conception. ‘Obviously this will not reduce the exposure to stress, but it may provide care, advice, and tools that would allow women to cope with stressful circumstances’ she added.

Article: 9th Decemeber 2011 www.dailymail.co.uk

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