Ghanaian pregnant women who sleep on back at increased risk of stillbirth

Pregnant women in Ghana who slept on their back (supine sleep) were at an increased risk of stillbirth compared to women who did not sleep on their back, according to new research led by a University of Michigan researcher.

In the study, published this month in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, researchers found that supine sleep increased the risk of by a factor of 5 and that it was the low birth weight that explained the high risk for stillbirth in these women.

The study's senior author, Louise O'Brien, Ph.D., M.S., associate professor in U-M's Center, says that although this study was conducted in a maternity hospital in Ghana—a country that has high —a recent case-control study from New Zealand also found a link between maternal supine sleep and stillbirth.

Stillbirth is a traumatic event that occurs in about 2-5 babies out of every 1,000 babies born in high-income countries. In , such as those in Africa, about 20-50 babies out of every 1,000 babies are stillborn.

"But if maternal sleep position does play a role in stillbirth, encouraging pregnant women everywhere not to sleep on their back is a simple approach that may improve pregnancy outcomes," says O'Brien.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of stillbirth in the world and little progress has been made in reducing those deaths.

"In Ghana, inexpensive interventions are urgently needed to improve . This is a behavior that can be modified: encouraging women to avoid sleeping on their back would be a low-cost method to reduce stillbirths in Ghana and other low-income countries," says O'Brien.

Jocelynn Owusu, M.P.H., of the Department of and Education in the U-M School of Public Health, the study's first author, interviewed women soon after delivery at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra Ghana.

O'Brien says that the possibility that supine sleep has a part in low birth weight and subsequently is plausible because of uterine compression on the inferior vena cava, resulting in reduced venous filling and cardiac output.

"The data in this study suggests that more than one-quarter of stillbirths might be avoided by altering maternal sleep position," O'Brien says. "This supports the need to develop simple intervention trials."

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijgo.2013.01.013

Related Stories

Stillbirth risk affected by mother's sleep position

date Jun 16, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a new study published in the British Medical Journal, Tomasina Stacey from the University of Auckland’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology revealed that women who do not sleep ...

Recommended for you

ACOG urges expedited partner therapy for some STIs

date 13 hours ago

(HealthDay)—For patients with sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea and chlamydia, whose partners are unable or unwilling to seek care, expedited partner therapy can be used to prevent ...

German woman, 65, gives birth to quadruplets

date May 23, 2015

A 65-year-old teacher from Berlin has given birth to quadruplets after a pregnancy that was widely criticized by medical professionals because of her age, RTL television said Saturday.

More evidence C-sections riskier for moms

date May 20, 2015

(HealthDay)—Women who deliver their first baby by cesarean section are more likely to need blood transfusions and be admitted to intensive care units than women who opt for a vaginal delivery, U.S. health ...

Meds offer slight symptom relief in overactive bladder

date May 20, 2015

(HealthDay)—For women with overactive bladder, medications delivered as a daily dose correlate with small reductions in urge incontinence episodes and voiding, according to a review published online May ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.