Certain women at higher risk of developing postnatal blood clots

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Women who have suffered a stillbirth or have pre-existing medical conditions including inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, or varicose veins are at greater risk of developing dangerous blood clots after giving birth, a new study has revealed.

Led by a team of researchers from the School of Community Health Sciences at the University of Nottingham in England, the study adds that women who were older than 35, who were overweight or obese, or who smoked were also at higher risk of developing blood clots during and after pregnancy. The data comes from an analysis of nearly 400,000 pregnancies occurring between 1995 and 2009.

Blood clots affect about one or two pregnancies per 1,000, according to the release. Although rare, blood clots, formally referred to as venous thromboemboli (VTE), are thought to be the leading cause of death in expectant and postnatal mothers (when a clot breaks free and travels to organs such as the heart, brain or lungs, it is called an emoblism). While some of those risks may already be well-known, study leader Dr. Matthew Grainge says that perhaps the correlation between stillbirths, premature births and blood clots has received insufficient attention to date. He adds, Stillbirths and premature births are not currently incorporated in the guidelines for risk assessment for blood clots and, if they were, then many cases associated with those risk factors could potentially be prevented.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, I agree with the study researchers when they express hope that these findings will help doctors identify at-risk women and help prevent them from developing life-threatening blood clots, perhaps by considering prophylactic anti-coagulant, blood-thinner, therapy.