Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 18, Issue 9, pp 2195-2201

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Employment Trends During Preschool Years Among Mothers of Term Singletons Born with Low Birth Weight

  • Lars Johan HaugeAffiliated withDivision of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health Email author 
  • , Tom KornstadAffiliated withDivision of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public HealthResearch Department, Statistics Norway
  • , Ragnhild Bang NesAffiliated withDivision of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • , Petter KristensenAffiliated withDepartment of Occupational Medicine and Epidemiology, National Institute of Occupational HealthInstitute of Health and Society, University of Oslo
  • , Lorentz M. IrgensAffiliated withMedical Birth Registry of Norway, Norwegian Institute of Public HealthDepartment of Global Public Health and Primary Health Care, University of Bergen
  • , Markus A. LandoltAffiliated withDepartment of Psychosomatics and Psychiatry, University Children’s Hospital
  • , Leif T. EskedalAffiliated withResearch Department, Sørlandet Hospital
  • , Margarete E. VollrathAffiliated withDivision of Mental Health, Norwegian Institute of Public HealthPsychological Institute, University of Oslo


Children born at term with low birth weight (LBW) are regarded growth restricted and are at particular risk of adverse health outcomes requiring a high degree of parental participation in the day-to-day care. This study examined whether their increased risk of special health care needs compared to other children may influence mothers’ opportunities for participation in the labor market at different times after delivery. Data from 32,938 participants in the population-based Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study with singleton children born at term in 2004–2006 were linked to national registers in order to investigate the mothers’ employment status when their children were 1–3 years in 2007 and 4–6 years in 2010. Children weighing less than two standard deviations below the gender-specific mean were defined as LBW children. Although not significantly different from mothers of children in the normal weight range, mothers of LBW children had the overall highest level of non-employment when the children were 1–3 years. At child age 4–6 years on the other hand, LBW was associated with an increased risk of non-employment (RR 1.39: 95 % CI 1.11–1.75) also after adjustment for factors associated with employment in general. In accordance with employment trends in the general population, our findings show that while mothers of normal birth weight children re-enter the labor market as their children grow older, mothers of LBW children born at term participate to a lesser extent in paid employment and remain at levels similar to those of mothers with younger children.


Birth weight Child care Employment Special health care needs Work participation