A Major Public Health Issue: The High Incidence of Falls during Pregnancy

Kari Dunning; Grace LeMasters; Amit Bhattacharya


Matern Child Health J. 2010;14(5):720-725. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The objectives of this population based cohort study of 3997 women was to determine the incidence of falling and risk factors related to falls during pregnancy. Birth certificate data identified women who had delivered a child within the previous 2 months. Subjects were reached either by phone, internet or mailed surveys. The women were asked about health issues and activities at the time of the fall. Of the 3997 participants, 1070 reported falling at least once (27%) during their pregnancy. Of those 1070 35% fell two or more times, 20% sought medical care and 21% had two or more days of restricted activity. Women aged 20– 24 years had an almost two fold risk of falling more than those over 35 years (odds ratio 1.9; 95% confidence interval 1.4, 2.7). Characteristics of falls included: indoors (56%), on stairs (39%) and falling from a height greater than three feet (9%) (not mutually exclusive). Though 27% of women fell while pregnant, 10% experienced two or more falls. Pregnant women should be aware of the risk factors of and situations related to falls. There is an urgent need for primary prevention in this high risk group. Introduction


Falls are the most common cause of minor injury during pregnancy and are estimated to cause 17–39% of trauma associated with emergency department visits and hospital admissions, second only to motor vehicle crashes.[1–11] Falls during pregnancy may result in injury to the mother including fractures, sprains/strains, head injury, rupture of internal organs, abruptio placentae, rupture of the uterus and membranes, and occasionally maternal or fetal death.[3,10,12–14] The overall rate, risk factors, and characteristics of falls during pregnancy in the general population are unknown, however, making prevention difficult. To address these gaps, a population based cohort study of new mothers who had recently given birth was undertaken.


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