May 13, 2013

Study questions whether bedrest prevents premature births

Estimates suggest that nearly 1 in 5 mothers-to-be is told to curb her activity, including some who are told to stay in bed.

By Lauran Neergaard / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Sandy Lutton of McLean, Va., sits with her three children, twins Lilly and Luke and their older brother Jack, right. Lilly and Luke were born after Lutton spent 18 weeks of her pregnancy on strict bed rest. Research is raising new concern about the value of bed rest in preventing premature birth.

The Associated Press

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says bedrest shouldn't be "routinely recommended" for prevention of preterm birth. And women face a tough decision when their doctors do bring it up.

Sandy Lutton spent the last 18 weeks of her pregnancy lying flat in bed, forbidden even to prop up with her laptop, hoping it would prevent her twins from being born too soon.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it was stressful," said the McLean, Va., woman, whose twins, now 2, were born healthy. "I had a lot of time to sit and worry."

Her first son had been born on time, but she'd lost a second baby due to a weak cervix. With the twins, her doctors stitched her cervix closed and recommended strict bed rest, while making it clear there was no proof it would make a difference. Lutton bombarded them with questions, but eventually decided she had to try. Ultrasound exams showed her cervix stayed fine until doctors removed the stitch and delivered her babies; she even cheated with a little extra movement on exam days.

Amid the uncertainty, March of Dimes medical adviser Dr. Siobhan Dolan said women shouldn't hesitate to ask their doctors about the pros and cons of restricting activity.

"Sometimes you feel less regret if you did something even though it didn't change the outcome," acknowledged Dolan, who herself has prescribed bed rest less often in recent years.

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