Job Loss in the Family Linked to Miscarriage and Stillbirth
POLITICAL SCIENCES |

Job Loss in the Family Linked to Miscarriage and Stillbirth

ALESSANDRO DI NALLO AND SELIN KOKSAL, IN A STUDY ON THE UK, FIND THAT WHEN A PREGNANT WOMAN OR HER PARTNER LOSE THEIR JOB, THE RISK OF PREGNANCY LOSS DOUBLES

Researchers have found a link between a pregnant woman or her partner losing their job and an increased risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.
 
A study conducted by Selin Köksal (University of Essex) and Alessandro Di Nallo (Bocconi’s Dondena Centre for Research on Social Dynamics and Public Policy), recently published in Human Reproduction, found that experiencing job loss during pregnancy is linked to a nearly doubled risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.
 
The researchers emphasize that their findings highlight an association between job loss and an increased probability of miscarriage or stillbirth, but the study does not establish that losing a job directly causes pregnancy loss.
 
The study is based on data from the “Understanding Society” survey, which involved 40,000 households in the UK from 2009 to 2022. It includes 8,142 pregnancies for which there was complete information on the date of conception and pregnancy outcome. Out of these pregnancies, 11.6% miscarried (947), which may be an underestimate because many pregnancies do not survive beyond the first month and pregnancy loss can go undetected. There were 38 stillbirths, representing 0.5% of conceptions, which is in line with the UK’s official statistics for stillbirths.
 
Out of 136 women who were affected by their own or their partner’s job loss, 32 (23.5%) miscarried and one (0.7%) had a still birth. Among the 8,006 women who were not affected by their own or their partner’s job loss, 915 (10.4%) miscarried and 37 (0.5%) had a stillbirth.
 
“The reasons for these associations may be related to stress, reduced access to prenatal care, or changes in lifestyle,” Di Nallo said.
 
  

Köksal and Di Nallo teamed up when the former was a PhD student at Bocconi, researching reproductive health. Since one of Di Nallo’s previous studies indicates that job loss reduces the likelihood of having children, focusing together on pregnancy was a rather straightforward move.
 
 “Our findings are important as we uncover a potential socioeconomic, hence preventable, factor behind pregnancy losses that can be addressed through effective policymaking,” Köksal said. “In the UK, for instance, 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 because our results show that a partner’s job stability is just as important for the course of pregnancy as the woman’s job stability.”
 
Further research would need to be carried out to understand if losing one’s job actually causes the increased risk of pregnancy loss, in a context where data for the entire population are available through administrative records. Being able to examine the association between job loss and pregnancy loss among different socioeconomic groups could help the authors to understand how exactly job loss is related to higher risk of a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
 
Alessandro Di Nallo, Selin Köksal, “Job loss during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth.” Human Reproduction, published online 27 September 2023, DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/humrep/dead183.

by Ezio Renda
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