Authors: Bello B, Heederik D, Kielkowski D, Wilson K.

Source: Reprod Health. 2016 September 6(13): 106


Background: The effects of female occupational exposures on fecundity have not been evaluated in South Africa. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of three specific occupational groups on time-to-pregnancy (TTP).


Methods: This cross-sectional study collected data, by means of a questionnaire, on 1210 women representative of a South African population, and sought information on: TTP for the most recent pregnancy, time-specific information on maternal factors and occupational exposures, as well as some paternal factors. Occupational exposure groups were determined using employment profile prior to the pregnancy. In the risk analysis, domestic workers and teachers were compared to administrative staff. Accidental and unplanned pregnancies were excluded from the analysis and participants who were never pregnant were censored. Discrete-time Cox regression models were built to estimate fecundability ratios (FR).


Results: The median TTP in administrative workers, domestic workers and teachers was 4, 12 and 3 months respectively. After adjusting for a number of potential confounders, TTP was significantly related to occupation at the time of pregnancy attempt. Compared to administrative workers, domestic workers had a significantly lower per-cycle probability of conception (adjusted FR = 0.53; 95 CI 0.32–0.88). The per-cycle probability of conception in teachers compared to administrative workers was not significantly different (adjusted FR = 1.14; 95 CI: 0.75–1.72)


Conclusion: Domestic work was associated with prolonged TTP. Working as a domestic worker in South Africa may affect fecundity.


Keywords: Fertility Fecundity Time-to-pregnancy Occupation Domestic workers South Africa

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