Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2022;48(3):239-247    pdf full text

https://doi.org/10.5271/sjweh.4004 | Published online: 13 Dec 2021, Issue date: 01 Apr 2022

Occupational stress and pregnancy-related hypertension and diabetes: Results from a nationwide prospective cohort

by Lissåker C, Hemmingsson T, Kjellberg K, Lindfors P, Selander J

Objectives Using a large, national, prospective cohort, while adjusting for other work exposures, this study aims to investigate whether exposure to occupational stress during pregnancy is associated with hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP) and gestational diabetes.

Methods Our cohort consisted of 1 102 230 singleton births between 1994–2014 in Sweden, based on high-quality register data of Swedish pregnancies. Exposure to occupational stress was obtained from a job exposure matrix (JEM) constructed from 12 questions pertaining to the psychosocial work environment from the 1997–2013 cycles of Swedish Work Environment Survey, including approximately 75 000 individuals. We utilized the decision authority, demands, and social support indices. Decision authority and demands were combined to categorize occupations into low, active, passive, and high strain work. We estimated relative risks (RR) and adjusted for relevant confounders, such as age, smoking and other work exposures.

Results Occupations with lower levels of decision authority were associated with increased risks of 12–23% for HDP and preeclampsia and 36–58% for gestational diabetes compared to occupations with the highest levels of decision authority. Passive occupations had increased risks of 10% for HDP and preeclampsia and 15% for gestational diabetes when compared to low strain jobs. No significant associations were found for high strain occupations.

Conclusions As a whole, occupational stress was not consistently associated with pregnancy outcomes in our study. However, decision authority was associated with an increased risk for pregnancy-related complications. Further studies should investigate whether improvements in working conditions can help decrease these risks.

This article refers to the following text of the Journal: 2007;33(4):304-317
Download additional material