Who's Up Next?

02.28.11 The co-worker in the next cubicle helps determine baby-making, study says.

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Could you have picked up the pregnancy bug on the job, perhaps subconsciously? It's possible!

Women in the workplace appear to be highly affected by their female colleagues' fertility, according to Swedish researchers who analyzed eight years' worth of data from 150,000 women of childbearing age and their fellow workers.

The study found that the chances of having a first child jumped 11 percent about 13 months to 24 months after the birth of a co-worker's baby. Women were influenced most by female co-workers of a similar age and education levels.

They didn't seem to react to a co-worker becoming a father.

Childbearing really is contagious, but no one knows why, says study co-author J. Peter Nilsson, Ph.D. It could be that women watch co-workers to learn about the pros and cons of having a baby, or perhaps they see some benefit from bearing children at the same time their peers do. "Another possibility is that women want to conform to some norm," he says. — Shari Roan