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December 11, 2000

Healthy research findings for
pregnant physicians

By Holly Korschun

Pregnant physicians have especially good health habits and are just as productive in their jobs as non-pregnant female physicians, according to data collected from the Women Physicians’ Health Study, a nationally representative questionnaire-based survey.

Erica Frank, associate professor of family and preventive medicine in the School of Medicine, was principal investigator for the study, funded by the American Heart Association and the American Medical Association. The results were published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

The study compared 87 pregnant physicians with 1,148 non-pregnant female physicians, ages 30–40.

The investigators found that pregnant physicians ate more fat, fruits, vegetables and cheese, but not more dairy products than non-pregnant women physicians. None of the pregnant physicians smoked, and although half consumed alcohol, they reported drinking an average of only 0.4 drinks per week. Nearly all took vitamin supplements.

Pregnant physicians exercised just as much as non-pregnant physicians and reported their health to be better than did non-pregnant physicians. The study also found that workplace measurements, including work amount, the desire to work less, perceived work control, career satisfaction and work stress did not significantly differ by pregnancy status.

“This study shows us that pregnancy may be a time of particularly healthy habits and considerable productivity for female physicians,” Frank said. “This information gives us greater insight into the effects of pregnancy on work and could prove very useful for those making workplace decisions that involve pregnant women.”


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