Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

MS in Physician Assistant Studies (PA)


Physician Assistant Studies

First Advisor

Kari Bernard, PhD, PA-C


Introduction: Preterm birth (PTB) is a leading contributor to infant death globally and in the United States. The biological mechanisms and etiologies for PTB are not well understood making prevention challenging. The correlation between increased number of women in the workforce and increased incidence of PTB in the U.S. inspired a thorough review of occupational risk factors that may contribute to shortened gestational length.

Background: The studies reviewed assessed the following occupational factors and their association with PTB: physical job demands, exposure to whole-body vibration and noise, shift work, long working hours, and psychosocial job strain.

Methods: A systematic search using Augsburg University’s Lindell Library, PubMed, and ScienceDirect databases was conducted to find peer-reviewed studies that examined maternal occupational factors and birth outcomes.

Discussion: PTB was most associated with physically demanding jobs, long working hours, and prolonged exposure to whole-body vibration. However, more research is needed to further clarify at what exposure level and stage of the pregnancy exposures have the most impact. Additionally, more studies that control for confounding variables and address the role of maternal race and socioeconomic status are needed.

Conclusion: There is not sufficient evidence to support the implementation of workplace policies that limit job duties or working hours for women during pregnancy. However, it may be prudent for clinicians to educate pregnant patients that heavy lifting, prolonged standing and bending at the trunk, working long hours, and having a full-time job with exposure to whole- body vibration has been associated with early parturition.


SC 11.PAS.2021.Forbes.K