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Maternal Occupation and Term Low Birth Weight in a Predominantly Latina Population in Los Angeles, California

von Ehrenstein, Ondine S. PhD, MPH, MSc; Wilhelm, Michelle PhD; Ritz, Beate MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: September 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 9 - p 1046–1051
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829888fe
Original Articles

Objectives: Focusing on Latinas, we investigated whether maternal occupations during pregnancy increase term low birth weight (TLBW) (less than 2500 g; 37 weeks or more).

Methods: In a case–control study (n = 1498) nested within a 2003 birth cohort (n = 58,316) in Los Angeles County, California (65% Latina), we assessed the influence of maternal occupation on TLBW, using Occupational Codes based on the 2000 US Census Occupational Classification System.

Results: Odds ratios (ORs) for TLBW were increased among women working during pregnancy in “transportation and material moving operations” (adjusted OR = 3.28; 95% confidence interval = 1.00 to 10.73), “food preparation and serving occupations” (adjusted OR = 3.03, 95% confidence interval = 1.21 to 7.62), or “production occupations” (adjusted OR = 2.63, 95% confidence interval = 1.01 to 6.82) compared with “office occupations;” 73% to 93% of women working in these higher-risk jobs were immigrant Latinas.

Conclusions: Working conditions in various jobs held mainly by first-generation immigrant Latinas increase risks for TLBW and need to be addressed to develop strategies to reduce TLBW.

From the Departments of Community Health Sciences (Dr von Ehrenstein) and Epidemiology (Drs Wilhelm and Ritz), Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles.

Address correspondence to: Ondine S. von Ehrenstein, PhD, MPH, MSc, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California Los Angeles, PO Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095 (

This study was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS grant R03 ES017119) and the California Air Resources Board (contract No. 04-323).

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine