Fainting during pregnancy has generally been thought of as benign, but a new population-based study has cast this supposition into doubt. The findings, which surprised the researchers themselves, have prompted calls to add fainting to the list of pregnancy-induced conditions that can be considered warning signs for women’s health.
The research team at University of Alberta reviewed the birth records of nearly 500,000 babies born in the province and the medical records of the mothers for one year after delivery. They assessed the frequency and timing of any fainting episodes, as well as any medical outcomes. The results have recently been published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Expectant mothers fainted during roughly one percent of these pregnancies, and among this group the researchers found there were higher rates of preterm births as well as an increase on heart problems and further fainting episodes for the mothers. These effects were most pronounced in the third of this group who had fainted during the first trimester. When mothers had passed out more than once, there was also an increase in congenital anomalies such as low birth rate.
As a result of these findings, University of Alberta senior epidemiologist Padma Kaul has women who faint during pregnancy to report it to their doctors, and that both babies and mothers should be monitored closely when this occurs.
The researchers have cautioned that while a correlation has been drawn, the results will have to be replicated in further studies before the indicated links can be more firmly established.
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