Impact of Lifestyle Modification on Pregnant Women’s Work Ability, Sickness Absence and Return to Employment

The impact of lifestyle modification on pregnant women’s work ability, well-being and return to employment. The study started in 2009 and it investigated the factors that promote and prevent women's return to work after family leave.


Gestational diabetes is a significant risk to the health of both the mother and the child. Mothers diagnosed with gestational diabetes are known to have triple the risk of postnatal metabolic syndrome compared to other mothers.


The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of lifestyle choices during pregnancy on women's work ability, well-being and ability to return to work. The study started in 2009 and it investigated the factors that affect women returning to work after family leave and it also examined the impact of the appeal of work and home, the perceived health and ability to work of the women as well as how social ties and networks affected the women’s ability to return to work after family leave.


The study was conducted using group interviews with the aim of investigating what mothers associate with the words work, family and child care. The interview also discussed other matters that affect women. The aim of the randomized clinical trial was to prevent gestational diabetes in mothers who have at least one risk factor for developing gestational diabetes. The clinical trial was conducted in 14 regions within Pirkanmaa and ended in the autumn of 2009.

The mothers in the trial were given intensive nutrition and exercise guidance as part of their regular maternity clinic visits. Almost 1000 mothers participated in the first stage of the trial, 410 of which participated in the rest of the trial. The trial results are now available.

The other sections of the study were a qualitative study (focus group interviews regarding return to work), a follow-up study and combining the results with birth register data. The mothers who participated in the randomized clinical trial were examined one year after giving birth.

The aim of the follow-up study was to assess the effectiveness of the prevention of gestational diabetes based on birth register data and to investigate:

  • the permanence of favourable lifestyle changes
  • the incidence of metabolic syndrome
  • health, especially lipid metabolism
  • work ability and factors affecting returning to work
  • quality of life.

The follow-up included material collected through a mail survey and asking the mothers to undergo laboratory tests. The aim of the follow-up study was to assess the effects of the mothers' lifestyle changes during pregnancy on their health later in life. The results are important when developing maternity clinics' guidance practices to prevent various chronic diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, breast cancer).

The study was funded by the Academy of Finland as well as the Ministry of Education and Culture.





Riitta Luoto, Research Director



For publications (international and Finnish) of this research see the Finnish description.
To find the list of publications (Julkaisuja), scroll the page down.

Last Modified: 27.11.2014


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