Open Access Research article

Health and working conditions of pregnant women working inside and outside the home in Mexico City

Laura del Pilar Torres-Arreola1*, Patricia Constantino-Casas2, Juan Pablo Villa-Barragán3 and Svetlana Vladislavovna Doubova1

Author Affiliations

1 Health Services and Epidemiologic Research Unit. National Medical Center Century XXI, Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico

2 Research Unit in Health Economics. Coordination of Health Research. National Medical Center Century XXI. Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico

3 Pediatric National Institute, Secretary of Health, Mexico

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:25  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-25

Published: 27 February 2007



To explore differences related to health and working conditions by comparing socio-demographic parameters, reproductive and prenatal care characteristics and working conditions among pregnant women who are employed outside the home (extra-domestic) while still performing a domestic workload versus those who perform exclusively domestic work in the home (intra-domestic).


A cross-sectional study was carried out at Family Medicine Unit N 31 of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) in Mexico City between April and July 2003. Interviews were conducted with 537 pregnant women engaged in either extra-domestic work plus intra-domestic tasks, or those performing strictly intra-domestic work. Information was obtained regarding their demographic status, prenatal care, reproductive, work characteristics, and health during pregnancy.


One hundred ninety-six (36.5%) of the interviewed women had paid jobs outside the home in addition to domestic tasks, while three hundred forty-one (63.5 %) engaged in exclusively intra-domestic occupations. Of the women with paid jobs, 78.6% worked as clerks. Among domestic tasks, we found that the greatest workload was associated with washing of clothes, and our micro-ergonomic analysis revealed that women who worked strictly inside the home had a higher domestic workload versus employed women (69.2 vs. 44.9%). When we analyzed the effect of work on health during pregnancy, we observed that women who worked strictly inside the home were at a higher risk for musculoskeletal and genitourinary symptoms than those employed outside the home.


These findings suggest that the effect of intra-domestic work should not be ignored when considering women's health during pregnancy, and that greater attention should be paid to women's working conditions during intra and extra-domestic work.