Risks at work

The best way to avoid the dangers posed by work is to develop working conditions and methods so that they cannot constitute a threat to your baby or pregnancy. During pregnancy, you should if possible be moved to another job if there is any danger of a chemical substance, radiation or contagious disease that could prove harmful to you. Should this not be possible, you can apply for a special maternity allowance so that you can begin your maternity leave earlier.

Contagious diseases

It is especially important in pregnancy to avoid any contagious diseases that could harm your baby. The risk of infection can be considerably reduced by carefully observing the protection instructions. Toxoplasmosis can occur in ordinary domestic cats, guinea pigs and test animals. This disease can be passed on in handling animals’ excrement (such as cat sand). The infection that can be caught from food and that is most dangerous in pregnancy is listeriosis. The best way to avoid catching this is to wash your hands well after handling meat and to store raw meat away from cooked food. Heat processed foods and frozen vegetables according to the instructions. Fresh vegetables should be carefully washed. Avoid vacuum-packed cold-smoked and raw-cured fish and meat, pates, and cheeses made from non-pasteurised milk. You may come into contact with German measles if you are, for example, working with children, unless you have already had it. If there is any risk, get yourself inoculated against it. Unless you have already had chicken pox, you should move to another job during pregnancy if there is any danger of catching it at work (a day nursery, school, hospital). In certain fields of health care it may be possible to catch the hepatitis B or HI virus from the blood or excretion of a patient who has it. You can reduce the risk by wearing gloves and disposable implements, and by avoiding oral pipetting in the laboratory. There may be a danger of cytomegalo infection in some special units if you have to handle infants’ excretion. If your job involves any of these, it may therefore be wise to move to a different job during pregnancy.


While pregnant, you should not do any work that involves radiation (e.g. radioscopy). Computer terminals and physiotherapy equipment do not, in the light of recent research, constitute any risk to the foetus.

Chemical factors

You should during pregnancy avoid any work involving anaesthetic gases, lead, mercury, organic solvents, cytostatic agents, carbon monoxide and agents carrying a risk of cancer.