Sickness keeps women away from their jobs slightly more often than men, according to a study by the National Center for Health Statistics.

A study between 1983 and 1985 of the health of workers found that women averaged 5.5 sick days annually, compared with 4.3 missed days of work for men.Reasons were not included, however.

The Labor Department, however, did suggest reasons in a 1985 survey that found 3.7 percent of men and 6.3 percent of women missed a day of work in a given week.

"Understandably, women have higher incidences of absenteeism during their child-bearing years, especially women with children under age 6," the study said.

Time taken off to give birth does not count in the absenteeism statistics, a report author said.

He said that comparative figures for men and women, which the center has not collected before, were included in this study because women now constitute such a large portion of the work force: 44 percent at the time of the study.

The study found that 11.2 percent of women took eight or more sick days a year, while 7 percent of men had eight or more days of lost work.

The most sick days, on average, were taken by women in the transportation and materials moving industries at 9.3. Women machine operators, assemblers and inspectors averaged 8.7 lost work days.