Pregnant people are twice as likely to miscarry if they or their partner have lost their job, according to a new study.
The University of Essex analyzed 8,142 pregnancies between 2009 and 2022 and found on average 11.6 percent miscarried.
However, they discovered this went up to 23.5 percent if the woman or their partner lost their job during the pregnancy.
Overall, 136 women faced redundancy in the immediate family.
Among the 8,006 who didn’t suffer the fallout of redundancy, 10.4 percent miscarried.
In the group who kept their jobs, 0.5 percent had a stillbirth, compared to 0.7 percent of their counterparts who lost their job.
Co-author of the paper, Dr. Alessandro Di Nallo, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy, said: “The reasons for these associations may be related to stress, reduced access to prenatal care, or changes in lifestyle.
“My previous research indicates that job loss reduces the likelihood of having children. This might be because people postpone their plans to have children under conditions of economic uncertainty, but it could also be due to other reasons.
“Stress results in a physiological response, releasing hormones that are known to increase the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery.
“The reduction in income following a job loss could restrict access and compliance with prenatal care, so that at-risk pregnancies are discovered late or are undetected.
“In addition, the emotional discomfort of job loss could prompt unhealthy behaviours, such as alcohol consumption, smoking or unhealthy eating.”
The team members stopped short of saying being let go causes women to lose their babies.
Dr. Selin Köksal from the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, said: “Our findings are important as we uncover a potential socioeconomic, hence preventable, factor behind pregnancy losses that can be addressed through effective policymaking.
“It is important to raise awareness of women’s legal rights and protection in the workplace during pregnancy so that women can feel safer and more empowered to communicate their pregnancy with their employer.
“Moreover, stress during pregnancy can have negative effects on both maternal and fetal health.
“So, provision of psychological support during pregnancy through the public health system is important regardless of women’s and their partner’s job status.
“In the UK, pregnancy is a period that is protected fairly well by labor market legislation. However, there is no job loss protection for the partners of pregnant women who are dismissed without notice.
“Policymakers, for instance, could consider extending job protection to workers whose partners are pregnant as our results show that a partner’s job stability is equally as important as the woman’s job stability for the course of pregnancy.
“Additionally, it makes sense to increase economic support for individuals – and their partners – who lose their jobs because the lack of economic support is shown to be one of the main causes of stress and personal distress, which can eventually increase the risk of pregnancy loss.”
“The UK welfare state has an anti-poverty focus and unemployment benefits are less generous than in the rest of Europe – on average only 34 percent of the last job’s salary for six months.
“Therefore, it would be interesting to see if more generous welfare regimes are better at reducing the psychosocial hardship of job loss.”
The team said the study published in the journal Human Reproduction was limited because pregnancies and job losses were self-reported and could be swayed by recall and a bias that being made redundant is undesirable.
Dr. Köksal added: “Further research would need to be carried out to understand if losing one’s job actually causes the increased risk of pregnancy loss.
“I would like to analyze socioeconomic factors influencing pregnancy loss in contexts where data for the entire population are available through administrative records.
“These data can help clarify whether there are solid causal links between job loss and pregnancy loss and whether there are certain socioeconomic groups in the population that are particularly at risk, such as economically precarious employees.
“Being able to examine the association between job loss and pregnancy loss among different socioeconomic groups could help us to understand how exactly a job loss is related to a higher risk of a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
“Is it because of economic hardship, or an experience of an unexpected event or is it due to loss of social status? These are the questions that I am hoping to answer in the future.”
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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