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Shift work could decrease fertility: Study

Published onsdag 10 juli 2013 kl 08.59

Women who work shifts could have trouble getting pregnant, a new study shows.

More than one in four women in Sweden has a job which involves shift work with variable working hours. Earlier research has shown that working shifts increases the risk for several diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, as well as complications during the later stages of pregnancy.

But a new meta-study of 16 other studies done between 1985 and 2013 and including nearly 120,000 women, offers new insight, writes the newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

Women who work alternating day, evening and night shifts have a 80 percent increased risk of subfertility, which means they need at least one year to get pregnant, compared to women who do not work shifts. The study, by researchers at the University of Southampton, also shows that women who only work night shifts have a 29 percent increased risk of misscarriage.

Christina Bergh, Professor of gynecology and obstetrics at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, says the study shows something which is not very well known.

"Shift work can probably be added as yet another lifestyle factor that influences fertility."

She believes that working shifts risks leading to a more unhealthy lifestyle involving irregular eating habits, smoking, weight increase and lack of exercise.

"And we know that smoking and a high BMI are factors that decrease fertility. So it could be that those are behind it, not the shift work in itself," says Christina Bergh.

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