Dutch Researchers Find Predictors of Postpartum Pelvic Girdle Pain


Researchers from EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, VU University Medical Centre in Amsterdam in the Netherlands have published a study that identifies factors among pregnant working women that can be used as predictors of a postpartum health issue known as pelvic girdle pain (PGP).

About nine in every ten Dutch women are able to return to work following the birth of their first child but health issues can complicate the postpartum period and cause them to miss work and need sick leave time, and PGP is one of the principal issues.

Says lead investigator Mireille N.M. van Poppel:

"It is important to identify predictors for postpartum PGP, because physicians, obstetricians, midwives, and employers could use them to identify women at risk for PGP and develop and implement preventive measures. These professionals can also give extra guidance aimed at the prevention of PGP during pregnancy or in the early postpartum period to women at risk for developing postpartum PGP."

The study involved surveying 548 pregnant Dutch employees from 15 companies who worked at least 12 hours per week across three different time intervals:

-- 30 weeks of pregnancy
-- 6 weeks postpartum
-- 12 weeks postpartum

The survey collected data from questions regarding demographics, work, pregnancy, fatigue, psychosocial issues, pelvic girdle pain, and delivery.

Researchers found that 73 percent of the first group reported PGP; 48 percent reported it in the second group and 43 percent between it in the third group.

In analyzing the data, researchers came up with a pair of statistical models:

- one for pregnancy-related predictors
- one for pregnancy- and postpartum-related predictors.

In the first model, they determined that the following can predict PGP at 12 weeks after birth:

-- History of low back pain
-- Higher somatization (a condition in which people experience unexplained headaches, stomachaches, shortness of breath, nausea, etc.)
-- More than 8 hours of sleep or rest a day
-- Uncomfortable positions at work.

Predictors of PGP in the second model included:

-- Increasing disability
-- Having PGP, and higher mean pain at 6 weeks
-- Higher somatization during pregnancy and at 6 weeks after delivery
-- Higher birth weight of the baby
-- Uncomfortable positions at work
-- The number of days of bed rest (the higher the number of days, the less risk of PGP).

Adds van Poppel:

"More somatization, more hours of sleep or rest, and no days of bed rest after delivery were found to be related to an increased risk of PGP, and those are new findings. While somatization is also a predictor of chronic low back pain and irritable bowel syndrome, it has not been previously reported as a predictor of PGP. One explanation might be that women who have PGP probably have a higher awareness of their bodily sensations. Alternatively, women who have mental problems might somatize and report PGP as a result."

Additional research is necessary to confirm this data as it pertains to PGP.

Source: MNT


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