Pregnant women who commute long distances to their workplaces are more likely to give birth to underweight babies. The findings of the study are published in the journal Economics and Human Biology.
Further, increasing travel by 16 km over the 80 km distance threshold was also associated with a rise in the probability of slowed fetal growth by 43 percent, compared with pregnant women living within 16 km of their workplaces, said the study.
‘Pregnant women who travel over 80 km to work, every 16 km raised the probability of having a low-birth-weight baby by 14 percent.’
"The finding that low birth weight might be associated with a source of stress, like long-distance commuting, is somewhat expected since chronic strain is linked to adverse birth outcomes," said Muzhe Yang, Associate Professor at Lehigh University in the US.
"But it was surprising to find an association with under-use of prenatal care among pregnant women commuting long-distance," said Muzhe.
The long commutes during pregnancy were also associated with a decreased number of prenatal visits.
"These results suggest a self-reinforcing mechanism. Those who are in greater need of prenatal care because of the potential adverse effects of stress, triggered by long commutes, are under-using prenatal care, which could lead to even worse birth outcomes," said Yang Wang, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.