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Work and Healthy Pregnancy: take action

Enhancing the health of both the mother and child during and after pregnancy
Publication date: 01 January 2015

Exposure to dangerous substances, heavy-duty work and shifts can have detrimental effects on pregnancy, for both the mother and child. Specific exposure to toxics or teratogens can lead to a mother’s high blood pressure or miscarriage. The child runs the risk of premature birth, low birth weight and/or congenital defects. The project ‘Work and Healthy Pregnancy – take action!’ aspires to improve the mother’s and child’s health during and after pregnancy as regards the potential impact of harmful work factors.

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Introduction

Work-related risks and pregnancy have received little attention in the Netherlands. This applies to the preconception phase as well as during the pregnancy. Conservative estimates of the consequences lead to a great preventable maternal and perinatal morbidity, since at least 70% of pregnant women hold a job.

The experts and people involved believe that this situation is mainly caused by the lack of clarity in the organisations and insufficient expertise in the care chain. That is why the ZonMW Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development offers a grant for tackling these problems within the scope of the 'Pregnancy & Childbirth' programme.

Project description

The project Work and Healthy Pregnancy – take action! concerns an extension of the systematic risk screening that is already taking place during the first pregnancy check-up or at a later stage of the pregnancy. Within the project, the already implemented e-tools and procedures/care routes will be expanded based on the relevant knowledge of work-related risks for pregnancy or the unborn child. As for the potential care routes for women who have been found to run certain risks, a three-step model is considered in which routine midwifery care will be enhanced by expertise in the field of occupational medicine.

The 3 components of the three-step model are:

  1. increasing the basic knowledge of work-related risks on the part of the midwife responsible for the intake and supervision of the pregnant client;
  2. educating one or some professionals within a collaborative partnership of midwives as experts in the field of work-related risks; these experts can be consulted by other midwives;
  3. appointing and, if necessary, training a company doctor/clinical medical practitioner for consultation in case of more complex work-related risks or a need of consultation with the doctor of the company or organisation that employs the pregnant client.

Objectives

The project’s objectives:

  • The expansion of the existing antenatal screening as regards work-related factors;
  • The enhancement of midwifery care professionals' knowledge of work-related risks;
  • The improvement of the organisation of risk-related care as regards work factors for mothers to be;
  • The efficient deployment of occupational health and safety professionals by way of existing risk-related care tools and procedures;
  • Providing the pregnant client access to information on the work-related risks that she might run.

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