Cincinnati--A team of investigators led by Grace Lemasters, PhD, and
Amit Bhattacharya, PhD, professors of environmental health at the
University of Cincinnati (UC), the Hamilton County General Health
District, and the Cincinnati Health Department is conducting a study to
determine risk factors related to falls in pregnant women--both at home
and in the workplace. The study will provide recommendations for an
intervention program to decrease the incidence of falls in this
high-risk group. Preliminary findings from a recent study conducted by
the team at UC indicated falls were relatively common, occurring in
about one in five pregnancies.
Although falls are common during
pregnancy, little is known about the risk factors, and virtually
nothing is known about pregnant employees falling in the workplace.
"Many work and home factors are being examined including slippery
floors, poor lighting, and shoes with high heels or slick soles," says
Lemasters. "Once we understand what causes falls during pregnancy, we
can design intervention programs to decrease injury during pregnancy
for all pregnant women particularly those in high-risk work
Physiological changes during pregnancy
substantially increase the risk of fall and injury. The protruding
abdomen and loosening of pelvic ligaments cause a woman's center of
gravity to shift and results in progressive lordosis of the spine.
These changes cause a woman to continually readjust her body alignment
and balance, which result in a risk for falls and injury.
studies report that falls account for 17 to 39 percent of all traumatic
injuries to pregnant women. Trauma during pregnancy is associated with
an increased risk of spontaneous abortion, pre-term labor, placental
abruption, feto-maternal transfusion, and still birth. Even minor
forces may be sufficient to shear the placental attachments and
placental abruption after blunt abdominal trauma.
This study will
include a survey of women who recently gave birth in the city of
Cincinnati and Hamilton County over approximately a six-month period.
Over 3,000 women will complete a survey administered by mail or phone.
A birth certificate database system will be used to determine
The study is funded by the National
Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and is likely to
have a major impact in public health by preventing falls during
pregnancy at home and in the workplace.