Pregnancies Are ‘Contagious’ Between Colleagues

by Laura Driver

Pregnancies are ‘contagious’ between colleagues in the workplace and between siblings in the family, according to new research by the University of Cologne. The study found that if a colleague becomes a mother, the chances of further pregnancies in the workplace increases – and the same effect can be found between siblings. The researchers analysed data from the Dutch systems of Social Statistical Datasets (SSD), which contains information about family members and workplaces of the whole Dutch population.

The study reveals that if a child is born to a sibling or a colleague, this can trigger a chain reaction because a person who has the desire to have a child can in turn influence their siblings, and then influence their own colleagues. This suggests that things like social learning can lead to a contagious spread of fertility through social networks.


‘We suspect that this kind of effect happens in the workplace primarily due to social learning; colleagues may influence each other’s fertility decisions because they can learn from them about the consequences of becoming a parent, and how parenthood influences work and family life,’ says Professor Leopold. The research also found that people who are of reproductive age, and who rarely experience births among their siblings and colleagues, are less likely to have children. Furthermore, a simulation showed that without the contagion effects, the numbers of pregnancies would drop by 5.8% without colleague effects, and by 1.5% without sibling effects.

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Written by

Laura Driver

Blogger & Social Media Manager
Laura lives in Yorkshire, UK with her two teenage children. When they were little (and definitely not taller than her) she used to blog avidly about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Laura is no stranger to all the joys small children can bring; sleepless nights, a random public meltdown or a spectacular poonami. She fondly remembers the time her youngest child rolled across a supermarket carpark in a trolley while she was putting her eldest child in the car and the time her, then, three year old took up swearing at a church event. Laura has worked for Your Baby Club, as a Social Media Manager, since 2014.

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