A new research study links a mother’s occupation during pregnancy to increased risk of asthma. According to researchers, exposure to certain agents could impact the fetus well into adulthood. Research carried out in Denmark included nearly 43,000 children. The occupation of the mother during pregnancy and the impact of agent exposure during time on the job was the topic of the study.

Women in the study were grouped into one of five groups – office, student, farmer, mixed exposure and low molecular weight exposure. The main focus was the group of women in the low molecular weight exposure category. Agents women may be exposed to in this category include paints, furniture, shoes and glues.

About 16-percent of the children in the study were diagnosed with asthma. Children born to mothers working in the low molecular agent exposure group were more likely to have asthma than children in any other group. About 19-percent of children born to this occupational group had received an asthma diagnosis.

While outdoor air quality seems to have more public visibility, indoor air quality during pregnancy is a huge concern. Pregnant women are clearly affected by indoor air quality in the workplace, but other employees can also suffer from constant exposure to allergens and chemical irritants. Side effects on all fronts may include asthma and lung disease.

It is important for pregnant women to work in a clean-air environment during pregnancy, but in many cases women do not have that choice on the job. Companies need to ensure clean air for all employees with proper air filtration and cleaning systems in the workplace.

Doctors strongly encourage women working in jobs with irritant and allergen exposure to look into alternative options. Some employers will move employees to safer environments during pregnancy.

Source: European Lung Foundation. 26 September, 2011.