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1.  The impact of advanced maternal age and parity on obstetric and perinatal outcomes in singleton gestations 
To investigate the effect of advanced maternal age (AMA) separately in nulliparous and multiparous women on obstetric and perinatal outcomes in singleton gestations.
Study design
A historical cohort study on data from 6,619 singleton pregnancies between 2004 and May 2007 was performed. AMA was defined as 35 years and older. Obstetric and perinatal outcomes in AMA versus women younger than 35 years (non-AMA) were compared for both nulli- and multiparae with Student’s t-test and Chi-square test in univariate analysis. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to examine the independent effect of AMA.
Out of 6,619 singleton pregnancies, the frequency of nulliparity was 42.7 and 33.4% of the parturients were of AMA. Among nulliparous women, AMA was significantly associated with a higher frequency of caesarean section both before labour (OR 2.26 with 95% CI 1.74–2.94), in labour (OR 1.44 with 95% CI 1.07–1.93), and more instrumental vaginal deliveries (ORs 1.49 with 95% CI 1.13–1.96). Among multiparous women, AMA was only significantly associated with a higher caesarean section rate before labour (ORs 1.42, 95% CI 1.19–1.69). There were no significant differences between the two age groups in the prevalence of other adverse obstetric outcomes and adverse perinatal outcomes.
Operative delivery is increased in AMA, including caesarean sections, as well as instrumental vaginal deliveries in nulliparous women. In multiparous women, however, only the rate of caesarean section before labour was increased. AMA had no significant effect on other adverse obstetric and perinatal outcomes irrespective of parity.
PMCID: PMC3112324  PMID: 20632182
Advanced maternal age (AMA); Parity; Obstetric outcome; Perinatal outcome
2.  The differential effects of maternal age, race/ethnicity and insurance on neonatal intensive care unit admission rates 
Maternal race/ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status (SES) are important factors determining birth outcome. Previous studies have demonstrated that, teenagers, and mothers with advanced maternal age (AMA), and Black/Non-Hispanic race/ethnicity can independently increase the risk for a poor pregnancy outcome. Similarly, public insurance has been associated with suboptimal health outcomes. The interaction and impact on the risk of a pregnancy resulting in a NICU admission has not been studied. Our aim was, to analyze the simultaneous interactions of teen/advanced maternal age (AMA), race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on the odds of NICU admission.
The Consortium of Safe Labor Database (subset of n = 167,160 live births) was used to determine NICU admission and maternal factors: age, race/ethnicity, insurance, previous c-section, and gestational age.
AMA mothers were more likely than teenaged mothers to have a pregnancy result in a NICU admission. Black/Non-Hispanic mothers with private insurance had increased odds for NICU admission. This is in contrast to the lower odds of NICU admission seen with Hispanic and White/Non-Hispanic pregnancies with private insurance.
Private insurance is protective against a pregnancy resulting in a NICU admission for Hispanic and White/Non-Hispanic mothers, but not for Black/Non-Hispanic mothers. The health disparity seen between Black and White/Non-Hispanics for the risk of NICU admission is most evident among pregnancies covered by private insurance. These study findings demonstrate that adverse pregnancy outcomes are mitigated differently across race, maternal age, and insurance status.
PMCID: PMC3495040  PMID: 22985092
3.  Maternal age-specific rates of fetal chromosomal abnormalities in Korean pregnant women of advanced maternal age 
Obstetrics & Gynecology Science  2013;56(3):160-166.
To evaluate the association of maternal age with occurrence of fetal chromosomal abnormalities in Korean pregnant women of advanced maternal age (AMA).
A retrospective review of the amniocentesis or chorionic villous sampling (CVS) database at Gangnam and Bundang CHA Medical Centers, between January 2001 and February 2012, was conducted. This study analyzed the incidence of fetal chromosomal abnormalities according to maternal age and the correlation between maternal age and fetal chromosomal abnormalities in Korean pregnant women ≥35 years of age. In addition, we compared the prevalence of fetal chromosomal abnormalities between women of AMA only and the others as the indication for amniocentesis or CVS.
A total of 15,381 pregnant women were selected for this study. The incidence of aneuploidies increased exponentially with maternal age (P<0.0001). In particular, the risk of trisomy 21 (standard error [SE], 0.0378; odds ratio, 1.177; P<0.001) and trisomy 18 (SE, 0.0583; odds ratio, 1.182; P=0.0040) showed significant correlation with maternal age. Comparison between women of AMA only and the others as the indication for amniocentesis or CVS showed a significantly lower rate of fetal chromosomal abnormalities only in the AMA group, compared with the others (P<0.0001).
This study demonstrates that AMA is no longer used as a threshold for determination of who is offered prenatal diagnosis, but is a common risk factor for fetal chromosomal abnormalities.
PMCID: PMC3784117  PMID: 24327996
Fetal chromosome aberrations; Maternal age; Prenatal diagnosis
4.  Pregnant women's attitudes towards alcohol consumption 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:175.
There is uncertainty as to whether there is a safe threshold for drinking alcohol during pregnancy. We explored pregnant women's attitudes towards drinking alcohol in pregnancy and their attitudes towards sources of information about drinking in pregnancy following recent changes in UK government guidance.
A qualitative study involving individual, semi-structured interviews with 20 pregnant women recruited from community organisations in the UK. Interview transcripts were analysed qualitatively using thematic analysis.
Most women found information and advice about safe levels of drinking in pregnancy confusing and lacking in evidence and detail. Although most women considered that there were risks involved with drinking in pregnancy and these perceptions influenced their behaviour, only six women reported abstinence. Women reported being influenced by advice from family and friends and their experiences of previous pregnancies. Many had received no individual advice from general practitioners or midwives relating to drinking during pregnancy.
Pregnant women wished to take responsibility for their own health and make choices based on informed advice. In order to do so, they require clear and consistent advice about safe levels of drinking from policy makers and health professionals. This is an important issue as women might drink socially during their pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2701426  PMID: 19500375
5.  Antenatal education and the birthing experience of Brazilian women: a qualitative study 
Information is still scarce on the birthing experience of women who participate in antenatal systematic education programs. The objective of the study was to report the experience of labor as described by nulliparous women who participated and who did not in a systematic Birth Preparation Program (BPP).
A qualitative study was conducted with eleven women who participated in a BPP and ten women attending routine prenatal care selected through purposeful sampling. The BPP consisted of systematized antenatal group meetings structured to provide physical exercise and information on pain prevention during pregnancy, the role of the pelvic floor muscles, the physiology of labor, and pain relief techniques. A single, semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant. All interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematic analyses performed. The relevant themes were organized in the following categories of analysis: control of labor, positions adopted during labor, and satisfaction with labor.
Women who participated in the systematic educational activities of the BPP reported they maintained self-control during labor and used breathing exercises, exercises on the ball, massage, baths and vertical positions to control pain. Also they reported satisfaction with their birthing experience. Women who did not participate in systematic educational activities referred to difficulties in maintaining control during labor and almost half of them reported lack of control. Also they were more likely to report dissatisfaction with labor.
Women who participated in the BPP reported self-control during labor and used non-pharmacological techniques to control pain and facilitate labor and expressed satisfaction with the birthing experience.
PMCID: PMC3766656  PMID: 24007540
6.  Maternal obesity support services: a qualitative study of the perspectives of women and midwives 
Twenty percent of pregnant women in the UK are obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2), reflecting the growing public health challenge of obesity in the 21st century. Obesity increases the risk of adverse outcomes during pregnancy and birth and has significant cost implications for maternity services. Gestational weight management strategies are a high priority; however the evidence for effective, feasible and acceptable weight control interventions is limited and inconclusive. This qualitative study explored the experiences and perceptions of pregnant women and midwives regarding existing support for weight management in pregnancy and their ideas for service development.
A purposive sample of 6 women and 7 midwives from Doncaster, UK, participated in two separate focus groups. Transcripts were analysed thematically.
Two overarching themes were identified, 'Explanations for obesity and weight management' and 'Best care for pregnant women'. 'Explanations' included a lack of knowledge about weight, diet and exercise during pregnancy; self-talk messages which excused overeating; difficulties maintaining motivation for a healthy lifestyle; the importance of social support; stigmatisation; and sensitivity surrounding communication about obesity between midwives and their clients. 'Best care' suggested that weight management required care which was consistent and continuous, supportive and non-judgemental, and which created opportunities for interaction and mutual support between obese pregnant women.
Women need unambiguous advice regarding healthy lifestyles, diet and exercise in pregnancy to address a lack of knowledge and a tendency towards unhelpful self-talk messages. Midwives expressed difficulties in communicating with their clients about their weight, given awareness that obesity is a sensitive and potentially stigmatising issue. This indicates more could be done to educate and support them in their work with obese pregnant women. Motivation and social support were strong explanatory themes for obesity and weight management, suggesting that interventions should focus on motivational strategies and social support facilitation.
PMCID: PMC3198957  PMID: 21982306
7.  The treatment experience of patients with low back pain during pregnancy and their chiropractors: a qualitative study 
Chiropractors regularly treat pregnant patients for low back pain during their pregnancy. An increasing amount of literature on this topic supports this form of treatment; however the experience of the pregnant patient with low back pain and their chiropractor has not yet been explored. The objective of this study is to explore the experience of chiropractic treatment for pregnant women with low back pain, and their chiropractors.
This qualitative study employed semi-structured interviews of pregnant patients in their second or third trimester, with low back pain during their pregnancy, and their treating chiropractors in separate interviews. Participants consisted of 11 patients and 12 chiropractors. The interviews consisted of 10 open-ended questions for patients, and eight open-ended questions for chiropractors, asking about their treatment experience or impressions of treating pregnant patients with LBP, respectively. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed independently by the investigators to develop codes, super-codes and themes. Thematic saturation was reached after the eleventh chiropractor and ninth patient interviews. All interviews were analyzed using the qualitative analysis software N-Vivo 9.
Five themes emerged out of the chiropractor and patient interviews. The themes consisted of Treatment and Effectiveness; Chiropractor-Patient Communication; Pregnant Patient Presentation and the Chiropractic Approach to Pregnancy Care; Safety Considerations; and Self-Care.
Chiropractors approach pregnant patients with low back pain from a patient-centered standpoint, and the pregnant patients interviewed in this study who sought chiropractic care appeared to find this approach helpful for managing their back pain symptoms.
PMCID: PMC3502160  PMID: 23046615
Pregnancy; Chiropractic; Qualitative; Exercise; Spinal manipulative therapy; Nutrition; Adverse effects
8.  Examining smoking and cessation during pregnancy among an Appalachian sample: a preliminary view 
Several transitions that a woman experiences prenatally may influence her desire or ability to discontinue smoking. This study explores the role of smoking for young, Appalachian, nulliparous pregnant women and their plans for smoking during their pregnancies.
The reports of women and their male partners were taken from baseline interviews conducted during the first trimester of pregnancy. Cigarette smoking appeared to be more than an isolated addictive activity; rather, smoking was interwoven in women's social and personal realms, often changing as their perceptions of self changed. Women and their partners who continued to smoke appeared to be depressed, reject authority, and perceived little control over issues related to being pregnant.
These findings support the argument that standard substance use treatments and polices based on stages-of-change theories may not be effective for all individuals particularly those experiencing significant developmental changes in their lives. Greater success might be obtained from treatment programs designed to recognize the impact of these transitions as it relates to the substance use. The changing experiences of pregnant women in terms of their identity development, views of others, and their relationships have not been adequately addressed in existing cessation programs. Empirically-based interventions targeting these lifestyle characteristics may lead to increased cessation success among pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC1892013  PMID: 17484783
9.  A Qualitative Study of Postpartum Mothers’ Intention to Smoke 
Birth (Berkeley, Calif.)  2012;39(1):65-69.
Many women stop smoking during pregnancy. Factors associated with relapse are known, but no intervention prevents the return to smoking among pregnant women. The objective of this study was to determine why women return to smoking after prolonged abstinence during pregnancy by examining mothers’ intention to smoke at the time of delivery and the perceptions that shape their intention.
We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews during their postpartum hospital stay with 24 women who stopped smoking while pregnant. We asked participants whether they intended to resume smoking after pregnancy and why. Transcripts were analyzed using grounded theory-based qualitative methods to identify themes.
Participants ranged in age from 18 to 36 years, and 63 percent were white. Three themes emerged from the interviews with the mothers: 1) they did not intend to return to smoking but doubted whether they would be able to maintain abstinence; 2) they believed that it would be possible to protect their newborns from the harms of cigarette smoke; and 3) they felt that they had control over their smoking and did not need help to maintain abstinence after pregnancy.
Although most participants did not intend to resume smoking, their intentions may be stymied by their perceptions about second-hand smoke and by their overestimation of their control over smoking. Further study should quantify these barriers and determine their evolution over the first year after pregnancy with the goal of informing more successful, targeted interventions. (BIRTH 39:1 March 2012)
PMCID: PMC3296969  PMID: 22369607
postpartum period; smoking; maternal behavior; qualitative research; behavior and behavior mechanisms
10.  Providers’ Perceptions of Relationships and Professional Roles when Caring for Patients who Leave the Hospital Against Medical Advice 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2008;23(10):1698-1707.
Patients who leave hospitals against medical advice (AMA) may be at risk for adverse health outcomes. Their decision to leave may not be clearly understood by providers. This study explored providers’ experiences with and attitudes toward patients who leave the hospital AMA.
To explore providers’ experiences with and attitudes toward patients who leave the hospital AMA.
We conducted interviews with university-based internal medicine residents and practicing internal medicine clinicians caring for patients at a community hospital from July 2006 to August 2007. We approached 34 providers within 3 days of discharging a patient AMA. The semi-structured instrument elicited perceptions of care, emotions, and challenges faced when caring for patients who leave AMA. Using an editing analysis style, investigators independently coded transcripts, agreeing on the coding template and its application.
All 34 providers (100%) participated. Providers averaged 32.6 years of age, 22 (61%) were men, 20 (59%) were housestaff from three residency programs, 13 (38%) were faculty, hospitalist physicians, or chief residents serving as ward attendings, and one (3%) was a physician assistant.
Main Results
Four themes emerged: 1) providers’ beliefs that patients lack insight into their medical conditions; 2) suboptimal communication, mistrust, and conflict; 3) providers’ attempts to empathize with patients’ concerns; and 4) providers’ professional roles and obligations toward patients who leave AMA.
Our study revealed that patients who leave AMA influence providers’ perceptions of their patients’ insight, and their own patient–provider communication, empathy for patients, and professional roles and obligations. Future research should investigate educational interventions to optimize patient-centered communication and support providers in their decisional conflicts when these challenging patient–provider discussions occur.
PMCID: PMC2533363  PMID: 18648890
hospitalization; patient discharge; patient–provider communication; difficult patient; professionalism
11.  Transition to parenthood: the needs of parents in pregnancy and early parenthood 
Pregnancy and the transition to parenthood are major adjustment periods within a family. Existing studies have asked parents, retrospectively, about their experience of antenatal education, mainly focusing on women. We sought to address this gap by asking first-time mothers and their partners about how they could be better supported during the antenatal period, particularly in relation to the transition to parenthood and parenting skills.
Purposive sampling was used to recruit 24 nulliparous women with a range of ages from two healthcare organisations in South-West England, 20 of whom had partners. Recruitment took place antenatally at around 28 weeks gestation. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken at home in the last trimester of pregnancy and between 3–4 months postpartum. Content analysis of the interview data was undertaken.
Several common themes emerged from both the ante- and postnatal data, including support mechanisms, information and antenatal education, breastfeeding, practical baby-care and relationship changes. Knowledge about the transition to parenthood was poor. Women generally felt well supported, especially by female relatives and, for those who attended them, postnatal groups. This was in contrast to the men who often only had health professionals and work colleagues to turn to. The men felt very involved with their partners' pregnancy but excluded from antenatal appointments, antenatal classes and by the literature that was available. Parents had been unaware of, and surprised at, the changes in the relationship with their partners. They would have liked more information on elements of parenting and baby care, relationship changes and partners' perspectives prior to becoming parents.
Many studies and policy documents have highlighted the paucity of parents' preparation for parenthood. This study has indicated the need for an improvement in parents' preparation for parenthood, the importance of including fathers in antenatal education and that inadequate preparation remains a concern to both women and their partners.
This paper identifies several avenues for action and further research to improve both new parents' experience of antenatal education and their preparation for parenthood.
PMCID: PMC2519055  PMID: 18664251
12.  Anti-malarial IgG subclasses pattern and FcγRIIa (CD32) polymorphism among pregnancy-associated malaria in semi-immune Saudi women 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:110.
Pregnant women remain are at an increased risk of malaria with primigravidae being at the highest risk. Genetic polymorphism of the Fc receptor IIa for immunologlobulin (Ig) G (FcγRIIa) determines IgG subclass binding. Protection against pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is associated with the production of IgG specific for apical membrane antigen-1 (AMA-1). The present study was undertaken to examine the relationship between specific IgG/IgG subclasses and malaria infection. The second aim of the study is to examine the association between FcγRIIa R/H131 polymorphism in correlation with specific anti-malarial IgG antibodies of AMA-1 distribution and asymptomatic malaria infection among Saudi women living in the southern part of Saudi Arabia.
One hundred and twenty pregnant women living in an area of meso-endemic Plasmodium falciparum malaria infection were consecutively enrolled onto the study. These pregnant women were asymptomatic and attending routine antenatal clinics. The levels of plasma antibodies (IgG and subclasses AMA-1) were measured using indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Genotyping of FcγRIIa-R/H131 dimorphism was performed using gene-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification with allele-specific restriction enzyme digestion (BstU1) of the PCR product.
A total of sixty-two (52%) pregnant women was diagnosed with asymptomatic malarial infection (ASM) compared with 58 (48%) malaria free controls (MFC). In the ASM group, there were high levels of anti-malarial IgG1 and IgG3, when compared to MFC (P value <0.001, respectively). The FcγRIIa-R/R131 genotype and R131 were found to be statistically significantly more prevalent in the ASM group when compared to the MFC group [55% for ASM versus 12% for MFC, odds ratio (OR) 5.62, 95% confidence interval (CI)= (2.03- 15.58), P value= 0.001]. However, the H/H131 genotype showed statistically significant association with MFC [14% for ASM versus 50% for MFC, OR(0.36), 95% CI= (0.14- 0.95), P value= 0.03].
The study revealed that the ASM patients had higher anti-malarial IgG and IgG subclasses antibody levels when compared to the MFC. The FcγRIIa-R/R131 genotype and R131 allele were found to be statistically prevalent in the ASM when compared to the MFC group. The individuals carrying H/H131 were consistently associated with higher levels of anti-malarial IgG subclasses.
PMCID: PMC3608938  PMID: 23517907
Pregnant; Asymptomatic; Malaria; IgG; Subclasses; FcγRIIa; Polymorphism; Saudi Arabia
13.  The association of unwanted pregnancy and social support with depressive symptoms in pregnancy: evidence from rural Southwestern Ethiopia 
Depression in pregnancy has adverse health outcomes for mothers and children. The magnitude and risk factors of maternal depression during pregnancy is less known in developing countries. This study examines the association between pregnancy intention, social support and depressive symptoms in pregnancy in Ethiopia.
Data for this study comes from a baseline survey conducted as part of a community- based cohort study that involved 627 pregnant women from a Demographic Surveillance Site (DSS) in Southwestern Ethiopia. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) was used to measure depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Data on depressive symptoms, pregnancy intention, social support and other explanatory variables were gathered using an interviewer-administered structured questionnaire. The association between independent variables and depressive symptom during pregnancy was assessed using multivariable logistic regression.
The prevalence of depressive symptoms during pregnancy was 19.9% (95% CI, 16.8-23.1), using EPDS cut off point of 13 and above. The mean score on the EPDS was 8, ranging from 0 to 25 (SD ±5.4). Women reporting that the pregnancy was unwanted were almost twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms compared with women with a wanted pregnancy. (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 1.96, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) 1.04-3.69) Women who reported moderate (AOR = 0.27; 95% CI 0.14-0.53) and high (AOR = 0.23, 95% CI 0.11-0.47) social support during pregnancy were significantly less likely to report depressive symptoms. Women who experienced household food insecurity and intimate partner physical violence during pregnancy were also more likely to report depressive symptoms.
About one in five pregnant women in the study area reported symptoms of depression. While unwanted pregnancy increases women’s risk of depression, increased social support plays a buffering role from depression. Thus, identifying women’s pregnancy intention and the extent of social support they receive during antenatal care visits is needed to provide appropriate counseling and improve women’s mental health during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3716614  PMID: 23800160
Depressive symptoms; Social support; Pregnancy; Violence; Food insecurity; Ethiopia
14.  ‘It's leaflet, leaflet, leaflet then, “see you later”’: black Caribbean women's perceptions of perinatal mental health care 
Despite high levels of psychosocial risks, black women of Caribbean origin rarely consult health professionals regarding symptoms of perinatal depression. Reasons for this are unclear as there has been little perinatal mental health research among this ethnic group.
To examine stakeholder perspectives on what might account for low levels of consultation for perinatal depression among a group of women who are, theoretically, vulnerable.
Design of study
A qualitative study using focus group interviews.
Community settings in the northwest of England.
A purposive sample of black Caribbean women (n = 42) was split into focus groups and interviewed. This sample was drawn from a larger study. Interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed verbatim. Framework analysis was used to generate themes.
Perceptions of practitioners' lack of compassion in delivering physical care and women's inability to develop confiding relationships with professionals during pregnancy and childbirth were significant barriers to consulting for depressive symptoms in particular, and health needs more generally. Advocating a ‘stepped-care’ approach, black Caribbean women suggested that new care pathways are required to address the full spectrum of perinatal mental health need. Apparently eschewing mono-ethnic, ‘culturally sensitive’ models, women suggested there was much to be gained from receiving care and support in mixed ethnic groups.
Black Caribbean women's suggestions for more collaborative, community-based models of care are in line with policy, practice, and the views of members of other ethnic groups. Adopting such approaches might provide more sustainable mechanisms for improving access and engagement both among so-called hard-to-reach groups and more generally, thereby potentially improving maternal and child outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3063015  PMID: 21439184
ethnic minority women; ethnicity; perinatal depression; primary care
15.  Getting more than they realized they needed: a qualitative study of women's experience of group prenatal care 
Pregnant women in Canada have traditionally received prenatal care individually from their physicians, with some women attending prenatal education classes. Group prenatal care is a departure from these practices providing a forum for women to experience medical care and child birth education simultaneously and in a group setting. Although other qualitative studies have described the experience of group prenatal care, this is the first which sought to understand the central meaning or core of the experience. The purpose of this study was to understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for women who participated in CenteringPregnancy through a maternity clinic in Calgary, Canada.
The study used a phenomenological approach. Twelve women participated postpartum in a one-on-one interview and/or a group validation session between June 2009 and July 2010.
Six themes emerged: (1) "getting more in one place at one time"; (2) "feeling supported"; (3) "learning and gaining meaningful information"; (4) "not feeling alone in the experience"; (5) "connecting"; and (6) "actively participating and taking on ownership of care". These themes contributed to the core phenomenon of women "getting more than they realized they needed". The active sharing among those in the group allowed women to have both their known and subconscious needs met.
Women's experience of group prenatal care reflected strong elements of social support in that women had different types of needs met and felt supported. The findings also broadened the understanding of some aspects of social support beyond current theories. In a contemporary North American society, the results of this study indicate that women gain from group prenatal care in terms of empowerment, efficiency, social support and education in ways not routinely available through individual care. This model of care could play a key role in addressing women's needs and improving health outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3364900  PMID: 22436393
Canada; Prenatal care; Pregnant women; Women's health; Social support
16.  Prepregnancy body mass index change between pregnancies and preterm birth in the following pregnancy 
Maternal prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) may affect the risk of preterm birth. However, it is unclear how changes in BMI between pregnancies modify the risk of preterm birth in the following pregnancy. We studied this effect in the Collaborative Perinatal Project, when obesity was uncommon and the prevalence of labor induction was low. This analysis included 1,892 nulliparous women whose first enrolled (index) pregnancy was a singleton live birth and the second enrolled (outcome) pregnancy was a consecutive singleton pregnancy (both pregnancy within 20-51 weeks of gestation). We used Cox regression model to calculate the hazard ratio (HR) of preterm birth at the outcome pregnancy as a function of reduced BMI (<25th percentile of change) and increased BMI (>75th percentile), compared to stable BMI (25th-75th percentile), adjusted for prepregnancy BMI at the index pregnancy and other covariates. BMI reduction was associated with a non-significant increased risk of preterm birth, adjusted HR 1.17 (95% confidence interval 0.90-1.53); BMI increase had effects close to null (adjusted HR 1.08 [0.83-1.41]). In the model with linear BMI change, each 1 kg/m2 increase was associated with an HR of 0.96 (0.89-1.03). The estimates associated with a BMI reduction were higher in women whose index pregnancy ended preterm (HR 1.49 [0.90-2.44]) and in those with BMI <25 kg/m2 at the index pregnancy (HR 1.30 [0.98-1.71]). This study involved mainly low-to-normal weight women with spontaneous deliveries, and might suffer from type II error due to small sample size. The effect of BMI change in overweight and obese women needs to be studied using contemporary data.
PMCID: PMC2790203  PMID: 19775382
17.  Evaluating patient values and preferences for thromboprophylaxis decision making during pregnancy: a study protocol 
Pregnant women with prior venous thromboembolism (VTE) are at risk of recurrence. Low molecular weight heparin (LWMH) reduces the risk of pregnancy-related VTE. LMWH prophylaxis is, however, inconvenient, uncomfortable, costly, medicalizes pregnancy, and may be associated with increased risks of obstetrical bleeding. Further, there is uncertainty in the estimates of both the baseline risk of pregnancy-related recurrent VTE and the effects of antepartum LMWH prophylaxis. The values and treatment preferences of pregnant women, crucial when making recommendations for prophylaxis, are currently unknown. The objective of this study is to address this gap in knowledge.
We will perform a multi-center cross-sectional interview study in Canada, USA, Norway and Finland. The study population will consist of 100 women with a history of lower extremity deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE), and who are either pregnant, planning pregnancy, or may in the future consider pregnancy (women between 18 and 45 years). We will exclude individuals who are on full dose anticoagulation or thromboprophylaxis, who have undergone surgical sterilization, or whose partners have undergone vasectomy. We will determine each participant's willingness to receive LMWH prophylaxis during pregnancy through direct choice exercises based on real life and hypothetical scenarios, preference-elicitation using a visual analog scale (“feeling thermometer”), and a probability trade-off exercise. The primary outcome will be the minimum reduction (threshold) in VTE risk at which women change from declining to accepting LMWH prophylaxis. We will explore possible determinants of this choice, including educational attainment, the characteristics of the women’s prior VTE, and prior experience with LMWH. We will determine the utilities that women place on the burden of LMWH prophylaxis, pregnancy-related DVT, pregnancy-related PE and pregnancy-related hemorrhage. We will generate a “personalized decision analysis” using participants’ utilities and their personalized risk of recurrent VTE as inputs to a decision analytic model. We will compare the personalized decision analysis to the participant’s stated choice.
The preferences of pregnant women at risk of VTE with respect to the use of antithrombotic therapy remain unexplored. This research will provide explicit, quantitative expressions of women's valuations of health states related to recurrent VTE and its prevention with LMWH. This information will be crucial for both guideline developers and for clinicians.
PMCID: PMC3495041  PMID: 22646475
18.  Perspectives on weight gain and lifestyle practices during pregnancy among women with a history of macrosomia: a qualitative study in the Republic of Ireland 
Excessive weight gain during pregnancy is a major risk factor for macrosomia (high birth weight delivery). This study aimed to explore views about weight gain and lifestyle practices during pregnancy among women with a history of macrosomia.
A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Twenty-one second-time mothers whose first infant was macrosomic (>4 kg) were recruited from a randomised trial in a large maternity hospital in the Republic of Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with participants at both 6 and 12 months after their second pregnancy. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify distinct themes.
The mothers believed in following their prenatal food cravings to meet their baby’s needs, but this led some to eat excessively. Many of the women cut back heavily on physical activity during pregnancy due to perceived risks to the baby. Physical conditions and discomforts during pregnancy often limited maternal control over weight and lifestyle practices. The women were not particularly concerned about weight gain during pregnancy and most did not favour the notion of introducing weight gain guidelines into routine antenatal care. Common differences perceived by the women between their first and second pregnancy included: increased concern about weight gain in their second pregnancy due to prior difficulties with postpartum weight loss and increased time demands in their second pregnancy impeded healthy lifestyle practices. Most women did not alter their perspectives on weight gain and lifestyle practices in their second pregnancy in response to having a macrosomic infant in their first pregnancy.
This analysis exposed numerous barriers to healthy pregnancy weight gain. The findings suggest that women may need to be advised to follow their prenatal food cravings in moderation. Pregnant women with children already may benefit from education on time-efficient methods of integrating healthy eating practices and physical activity into their lifestyles. Women with a history of macrosomia may need information about the importance of avoiding high weight gain in subsequent pregnancies.
PMCID: PMC3827496  PMID: 24195741
Weight gain during pregnancy; Macrosomia; Qualitative research; Lifestyle practices
19.  Extraordinary exposed in early motherhood - a qualitative study exploring experiences of mothers with type 1 diabetes 
BMC Women's Health  2011;11:10.
Women with type 1 diabetes face several challenges during pregnancy, childbirth and in relation to breastfeeding. It is therefore of utmost importance to consider their need for specific support, early postpartum as well as in daily life after discharge from maternity care. Few studies have investigated these aspects of healthcare. The aim of this study was to explore experiences after childbirth regarding breastfeeding, glycemic control, support and well-being in women with type 1 diabetes.
A hermeneutic reflective life world research approach was used in this qualitative study. Data was gathered through audio-recorded focus group discussions and individual interviews with 23 women with type 1 diabetes, 6-24 months after childbirth. After verbatim transcription, the text was analyzed in order to identify themes of meaning and a conclusive interpretation of the explored phenomenon.
Experiences of extraordinary exposure challenged the women with type 1 diabetes in their transition to early motherhood. The exposure included a struggle with breastfeeding, although with a driving force to succeed. Everyday life was filled with uncertainty and unpredictability related to one's own unstable glycemic control and the women down-prioritized their own needs in favor of the child. A feeling of being disconnected from professional care further contributed to the experiences of extraordinary exposure.
In early motherhood women with type 1 diabetes have a great need for support in managing daily life postpartum, which requires contemporary approaches to overlap insufficient linkage between health care professionals in maternity and child health care, and diabetes care.
PMCID: PMC3079679  PMID: 21473755
20.  The influence of socio-cultural interpretations of pregnancy threats on health-seeking behavior among pregnant women in urban Accra, Ghana 
Although antenatal care coverage in Ghana is high, there exist gaps in the continued use of maternity care, especially utilization of skilled assistance during delivery. Many pregnant women seek care from different sources aside the formal health sector. This is due to negative perceptions resulting from poor service quality experiences in health facilities. Moreover, the socio-cultural environment plays a major role for this care-seeking behavior. This paper seeks to examine beliefs, knowledge and perceptions about pregnancy and delivery and care-seeking behavior among pregnant women in urban Accra, Ghana.
A qualitative study with 6 focus group discussions and 13 in-depth interviews were conducted at Taifa-Kwabenya and Madina sub-districts, Accra. Participants included mothers who had delivered within the past 12 months, pregnant women, community members, religious and community leaders, orthodox and non-orthodox healthcare providers. Interviews and discussions were audio-taped, transcribed and coded into larger themes and categories.
Evidence showed perceived threats, which are often given socio-cultural interpretations, increased women’s anxieties, driving them to seek multiple sources of care. Crucially, care-seeking behavior among pregnant women indicated sequential or concurrent use of biomedical care and other forms of care including herbalists, traditional birth attendants, and spiritual care. Use of multiple sources of care in some cases disrupted continued use of skilled provider care. Furthermore, use of multiple forms of care is encouraged by a perception that facility-based care is useful only for antenatal services and emergencies. It also highlights the belief among some participants that care from multiple sources are complementary to each other.
Socio-cultural interpretations of threats to pregnancy mediate pregnant women’s use of available healthcare services. Efforts to encourage continued use of maternity care, especially skilled birth assistance at delivery, should focus on addressing generally perceived dangers to pregnancy. Also, the attractiveness of facility-based care offers important opportunities for building collaborations between orthodox and alternative care providers with the aim of increasing use of skilled obstetric care. Conventional antenatal care should be packaged to provide psychosocial support that helps women deal with pregnancy-related fear.
PMCID: PMC3840661  PMID: 24246028
Pregnancy; Perception; Beliefs; Socio-cultural; Healthcare; Ghana
21.  Experiences of professional support during pregnancy and childbirth – a qualitative study of women with type 1 diabetes 
Women with type 1 diabetes are at high risk of complications during both pregnancy and childbirth. Stringent monitoring of blood sugar is required in order to improve the chance of giving birth to a healthy child; however, this increases the incidence of severe hypoglycaemia. The aim of this study was to explore the need for and experience of professional support during pregnancy and childbirth among women with type 1 diabetes.
The study has a lifeworld research approach. Six focus groups and four individual interviews were conducted with 23 women, 6–24 months after delivery. The participants were encouraged to narrate their experiences of pregnancy and childbirth in relation to glycaemic control, well-being and provided care. Data analysis was directed towards discovering qualitative meanings by identifying and clustering meaning units in the text. Further analysis identified eight themes of meaning, classified under pregnancy or childbirth, forming a basis for a final whole interpretation of the explored phenomenon.
The women felt worry about jeopardizing the baby's health and this was sometimes made worse by care providers' manner and lack of competence and support. The increased attention from care providers during pregnancy was experienced as related to the health of the unborn child; not the mothers. Women who during pregnancy received care in a disconnected diabetes organisation were forced to act as messengers between different care providers.
Clarity in terms of defining responsibilities is necessary during pregnancy and childbirth, both among care providers and between the woman and the care provider. Furthermore, a decision must be made concerning how to delegate, transfer or share diabetes responsibility during labour between the care providers and the parents-to-be.
PMCID: PMC2725032  PMID: 19575789
22.  Neighborhood and Individual-Level Violence and Unintended Pregnancy 
As many as half of all pregnancies are unintended, and unintended pregnancy has been linked to a variety of adverse pregnancy and infant health outcomes. Our aim was to determine if urban women who experience high levels of neighborhood and/or individual-level violence are at an increased risk of reporting an unintended pregnancy. One thousand five hundred thirty-six pregnant women seeking care in an emergency department in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania were recruited in their first or second trimester and completed in-person interviews. Information on demographic characteristics, social support, substance abuse, current experience and history of interpersonal violence, perceptions of current neighborhood-level violence, and the intendedness of their current pregnancy were gathered. Multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationship between violence indicators and pregnancy intendedness. Six hundred twenty-seven women (41%) reported an unintended pregnancy. Not feeling safe in one's neighborhood was significantly associated with reporting an unintended pregnancy (odds ratio (OR), 1.28; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.02–1.61) when demographic, other neighborhood, and individual-level violence indicators were accounted for. Furthermore, history of sexual abuse (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.11–2.04), violence in previous pregnancy (OR = 1.7, 95% CI, 1.15–2.51), and a high index of spousal abuse score (OR = 1.6; 95% CI, 1.32–2.04) were also associated with unintended pregnancy in multiple logistic regression models. These findings indicate that neighborhood-level violence and other individual-level violence indicators may be important when examining factors related to unintended pregnancy among young, urban women.
PMCID: PMC2900564  PMID: 20559892
Pregnancy intendedness; Neighborhood violence; Individual violence
23.  Preconceptional Folate Supplementation and the Risk of Spontaneous Preterm Birth: A Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000061.
In an analysis of a cohort of pregnant women, Radek Bukowski and colleagues describe an association between taking folic acid supplements and a reduction in the risk of preterm birth.
Low plasma folate concentrations in pregnancy are associated with preterm birth. Here we show an association between preconceptional folate supplementation and the risk of spontaneous preterm birth.
Methods and Findings
In a cohort of 34,480 low-risk singleton pregnancies enrolled in a study of aneuploidy risk, preconceptional folate supplementation was prospectively recorded in the first trimester of pregnancy. Duration of pregnancy was estimated based on first trimester ultrasound examination. Natural length of pregnancy was defined as gestational age at delivery in pregnancies with no medical or obstetrical complications that may have constituted an indication for delivery. Spontaneous preterm birth was defined as duration of pregnancy between 20 and 37 wk without those complications. The association between preconceptional folate supplementation and the risk of spontaneous preterm birth was evaluated using survival analysis. Comparing to no supplementation, preconceptional folate supplementation for 1 y or longer was associated with a 70% decrease in the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery between 20 and 28 wk (41 [0.27%] versus 4 [0.04%] spontaneous preterm births, respectively; HR 0.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.08–0.61, p = 0.004) and a 50% decrease in the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery between 28 and 32 wk (58 [0.38%] versus 12 [0.18%] preterm birth, respectively; HR 0.45, 95% CI 0.24–0.83, p = 0.010). Adjustment for maternal characteristics age, race, body mass index, education, marital status, smoking, parity, and history of prior preterm birth did not have a material effect on the association between folate supplementation for 1 y or longer and spontaneous preterm birth between 20 and 28, and 28 to 32 wk (adjusted HR 0.31, 95% CI 0.11–0.90, p = 0.031 and 0.53, 0.28–0.99, p = 0.046, respectively). Preconceptional folate supplementation was not significantly associated with the risk of spontaneous preterm birth beyond 32 wk. The association between shorter duration (<1 y) of preconceptional folate supplementation and the risk of spontaneous preterm birth was not significant after adjustment for maternal characteristics. However, the risk of spontaneous preterm birth decreased with the duration of preconceptional folate supplementation (test for trend of survivor functions, p = 0.01) and was the lowest in women who used folate supplementation for 1 y or longer. There was also no significant association with other complications of pregnancy studied after adjustment for maternal characteristics.
Preconceptional folate supplementation is associated with a 50%–70% reduction in the incidence of early spontaneous preterm birth. The risk of early spontaneous preterm birth is inversely proportional to the duration of preconceptional folate supplementation. Preconceptional folate supplementation was specifically related to early spontaneous preterm birth and not associated with other complications of pregnancy.
Editors' Summary
Most pregnancies last about 40 weeks, but sometimes the new family member arrives early. Every year, half a million babies in the United States (12.5% of all babies) are born prematurely (before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). Sadly, premature babies are more likely to die than full-term babies and many have short- and/or long-term health problems. Premature babies often have breathing problems, they are susceptible to life-threatening infections, and they are more likely to have learning and developmental disabilities than those born on time. The severity of these health problems depends on the degree of prematurity—preterm babies born between 34 and 36 weeks of pregnancy rarely develop severe disabilities, but a quarter of babies born before 28 weeks of pregnancy develop serious lasting disabilities and half have learning and behavioral problems. Although doctors have identified some risk factors for early delivery (for example, smoking), it is impossible to predict who will have an early birth and there is no effective way to prevent preterm births.
Why Was This Study Done?
Some researchers think that folate supplements may prevent preterm births. Folate (folic acid), a vitamin found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans, helps to prevent neural tube birth defects. Consequently, women are encouraged to take folic acid supplements throughout (and preferably before) pregnancy and many governments now mandate that bread, pasta, and other grain products be fortified with folic acid to help women get sufficient folate. There is some evidence that women who deliver early have less folate in their blood than women who deliver at term. Furthermore, folate supplementation during pregnancy has increased the length of pregnancy in some but not all clinical trials. A possible explanation for these mixed results is that the duration of pregnancy reflects conditions in the earliest stages of pregnancy or before conception and that folate supplementation needs to start before conception to reduce the risk of preterm birth. In this study, the researchers test this idea by analyzing data collected from nearly 35,000 pregnant women enrolled in a study that was originally designed to investigate screening for Down's syndrome.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During the first three months of their pregnancy, the women were asked whether they had taken folate supplements before conception. The duration of each pregnancy was estimated from ultrasound measurements taken early in the pregnancy and from the time of delivery. During the study, 1,658 women had spontaneous preterm deliveries before 37 weeks and 160 delivered before 32 weeks. After allowing for other maternal characteristics that might have affected the likelihood of preterm delivery, the risk of spontaneous preterm delivery between 20 and 28 weeks was 70% lower in women who took folate supplements for more than a year before becoming pregnant than in women who didn't take a supplement. Long-term folate supplementation also reduced the risk of preterm delivery between 28 and 32 weeks by 50% but did not affect the risk of preterm birth beyond 32 weeks. Folate supplementation for less than a year before conception did not reduce the risk of preterm birth, and folate supplementation was not associated with any other complications of pregnancy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that folate supplementation for a year or more before conception is associated with a 50%–70% decrease in early (but not late) spontaneous preterm births and that the longer a woman takes folate supplements before becoming pregnant, the lower her risk of a preterm birth. Although the researchers allowed for maternal characteristics that might have affected the duration of pregnancy, it is possible that folate supplementation may not be responsible for the reduction in preterm birth risk seen in this study. For example, taking folate supplements may be a marker of healthy behavior and the women taking the supplements might have been doing something else that was reducing their risk of preterm birth. However, despite this and other limitations of this study, these findings suggest that long-term folate supplementation before conception is worth investigating further as a potential way to prevent preterm births.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Nicholas Fisk
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on premature babies (in English and Spanish); MedlinePlus provides links to other information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development provides information on preterm labor and birth
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on preterm birth and on folic acid (in English and Spanish)
The Nemours Foundation, another nonprofit organization for child health, also provides information on premature babies (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements has a fact sheet on folate
PMCID: PMC2671168  PMID: 19434228
24.  Prevalence of smoking during pregnancy and associated risk factors among Canadian women: a national survey 
Cigarette smoking carries a threat both to the expecting mother and her newborn. Data on the prevalence and predictors of smoking during pregnancy is limited in Canada. Canadian studies are mainly representative of specific cities and/or provinces. Therefore, the study aims to assess the prevalence of smoking during pregnancy and its associated risk factors throughout the Canadian provinces and territories.
The analysis was based on the Maternity Experience Survey targeting women aged ≥15 years who had singleton live births during 2005/06 in the Canadian provinces and territories. The outcome was ever smoking during the thirst trimester of pregnancy. Socio-economic factors, demographic factors, maternal characteristics, and pregnancy related factors that proved to be significant at the bivariate level were considered for a logistic regression analysis. Bootstrapping was performed to account for the complex sampling design.
The sample size was 6,421 weighted to represent 76,508 Canadian women. The prevalence of smoking during pregnancy was 10.5%, whereby smoking mothers consumed on average 7 cigarettes a day (95% Confidence interval - CI: 6.5-7.4; SD = 5.7). Regression analysis revealed that mothers who smoked during pregnancy were more likely to be of low socio-economic status, non-immigrant, single and passive smokers during pregnancy. Not attending prenatal classes and experiencing stressful events before/during pregnancy also increased the mothers' odds of smoking during pregnancy. While the age of the mother's first pregnancy was negatively associated with smoking during pregnancy, the mother's current age was positively associated with it.
Smoking during pregnancy is still prevalent among Canadian women. The findings may be useful to enhance smoking prevention programs and integrated health promotion strategies to promote positive health behaviors among disadvantaged pregnancies.
PMCID: PMC2885995  PMID: 20497553
25.  A qualitative study of the experience of CenteringPregnancy group prenatal care for physicians 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2013;13(Suppl 1):S6.
This study sought to understand the central meaning of the experience of group prenatal care for physicians who were involved in providing CenteringPregnancy through a maternity clinic in Calgary, Canada.
The study followed the phenomenological qualitative tradition. Three physicians involved in group prenatal care participated in a one-on-one interview between November and December 2009. Two physicians participated in verification sessions. Interviews followed an open ended general guide and were audio recorded and transcribed. The purpose of the analysis was to identify meaning themes and the core meaning experienced by the physicians.
Six themes emerged: (1) having a greater exchange of information, (2) getting to knowing, (3) seeing women get to know and support each other, (4) sharing ownership of care, (5) having more time, and (6) experiencing enjoyment and satisfaction in providing care. These themes contributed to the core meaning for physicians of “providing richer care.”
Physicians perceived providing better care and a better professional experience through CenteringPregnancy compared to their experience of individual prenatal care. Thus, CenteringPregnancy could improve work place satisfaction, increase retention of providers in maternity care, and improve health care for women.
PMCID: PMC3561144  PMID: 23445867

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