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    034916

    Breastfeeding--a life-saver in the Third World.

    Arton M

    MIDWIVES CHRONICLE. 1985 Jul; 98(1170):200-1.

    At the April meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO), experts in occupational health concluded that there is no evidence to justify the exclusion of women from any type of employment. Yet, they simultaneously underscored the need for conditions in places of work to be adapted to women, and in particular to those women employed in manual work, whether agriculture or manufacture. This was WHO's 1st meeting on the subject of health and the working woman. According to the experts, anatomical and physiological differences between men and women should not limit job opportunities. As more and more women enter the work force, machines need to be redesigned to take into account the characteristics of working women. In industries where strength is a requirement, e.g., mining, a certain level of body strength and size should be established and applied to both sexes. Also recommended were measures to protect women of childbearing age, who form the majority of women in the work force, against the hazards of chemicals -- gases, lead, solder fumes, sterilizing agents, pesticides -- and other threats to health deriving from the work places. Chemicals or ionizing radiation absorbed into the body could lead to mutagenicity, not only of women but also of men. In cases where a woman has conceived, mutagenicity could mean fetal death, or, where damage is done to sperm or ovum, lead to congenital malformation and to leukemia in newborns. Solvents so absorbed could appear in breast milk, thus poisoning the baby. Ionizing radiation, used in several industrial operations, also has been linked to breast cancer. As women increasingly take jobs that once used to be done solely by men, more needs to be known about the hazards of their health and of the psychosocial implications of long working hours. The following were included among recommendations made to increase knowledge and to protect health: that epidemiological studies be conducted in the risk of working women as well as more research on the effects of chemicals on pregnant workers; that working women be allowed to breastfeed children for at least 6 months at facilities set up at work places; and that information and health education programs be carried out to alert women against occupational health hazards.
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