Bed-rest may not be the best recommendation for women with high-risk pregnancies

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Women with high-risk pregnancies are often prescribed bed-rest because it is thought to prevent premature birth, hypertension, miscarriage and other complications a pregnant woman may face. However, new studies published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology suggest that evidence is inadequate to recommend bed-rest to these women, and in fact it may cause harm. This is very concerning, considering that one in five women in the United States are put on bed-rest.

One of these studies included about 650 women who were deemed at high risk of delivering preterm. Of those women, 250 were given the recommendation of bed-rest or restriction of activity. However, about 40 percent of those delivered early, as opposed to just about 20 percent of those women who were not confined to bed. Another study highlighted the adverse effects that may result from bed-rest including maternal weight loss, bone and muscle atrophy and risk of blood clots.

As a result of these findings, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is now recommending against bed-rest. And Dr. Joseph R. Biggio Jr. of the University of Alabama at Birmingham believes that more research must be done to investigate the effectiveness of bed-rest in women with high-risk pregnancies, but at this moment, he urges physicians to contemplate whether the risk-benefit ratio justifies prescribing it.

ACSH s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan questions the bed-rest recommendation. I m curious to know what other methods these doctors might have considered before putting women with high-risk pregnancies on bed-rest. I would also urge that women talk to their doctors extensively about whether or not bed-rest will be an effective course of action for them.