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Do bed rest orders cause premature births

The Becker Law Firm, LPA

Many women in Ohio who experience complicated or high-risk pregnancies may be prescribed bed rest by their doctors. A recent study, however, has found that bed rest may not be effective in some cases and that, in fact, it may be dangerous.

The study was actually meant to examine whether progesterone injections are linked to a risk of premature birth for women who have short cervixes, but the researchers ended up finding that bed rest is linked to premature labor for such women.

As part of the research, 646 pregnant women were asked questions weekly regarding whether their doctors ordered any activity restrictions. Thirty-nine percent of these women were placed on bed rest or given activity restrictions. And, thirty-seven percent of those who were activity-restricted or on bed rest ultimately gave birth prematurely while only 17 percent of those who remained active did so.

This means that women may be twice as likely to give birth prematurely–or before 37 weeks–if they are put on bed rest or given activity constraints. And, of course, with premature birth comes an increased risk of birth injury.

The researchers concluded that because of these findings–and because bed rest has a number of dangerous side effects, like blood clots and bone loss–those who are given such orders from their doctors should ask some questions about the benefits and risks of restricting activities during pregnancy.

The lead researcher, Dr. William Grobman of Chicago’s Northwestern University, was quoted by Reuters explaining: “Without evidence of benefit and other potential risks, we really have to ask why we would be prescribing this.”

It is important that doctors provide adequate care in order to avoid premature labor. Preterm babies can suffer birth injuries, including brain damage. When parents believe that their doctors failed to take necessary steps to prevent premature labor and birth injuries, it may be possible to file a medical malpractice claim with the help of a skilled attorney. However, not all birth injuries are avoidable. In order for a birth injury to be considered a result of medical malpractice, the prenatal care or care in the delivery room must have deviated from the accepted standards of medical practice.

Source: Reuters, “Bed rest no help for women at risk of early delivery,” Genevra Pittman, May 14, 2013

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