Still­born risk high­lighted


Women who sleep on their backs dur­ing the last three months of preg­nancy are 3.7 times more likely to have a late still­birth, Auck­land Univer­sity re­searchers say.

de­part­ment of ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy head pro­fes­sor Les­ley McCowan said its find­ings made sense as ly­ing on the back in late preg­nancy was as­so­ci­ated with phys­i­cal ef­fects that could com­pro­mise a baby’s well­be­ing.

Those ef­fects in­cluded a re­duc­tion in the amount of blood pumped by the mother’s heart, re­duced blood flow to the uterus and lower oxy­gen lev­els in the baby.

Sleep­ing on the back was also re­lated to snor­ing and ob­struc­tive sleep ap­noea, which are as­so­ci­ated with preg­nancy com­pli­ca­tions.

Ed­u­ca­tion en­cour­ag­ing women to sleep on their sides in the last three months of preg­nancy needed to be con­sid­ered, McCowan said. It had the po­ten­tial to re­duce late still­birth - af­ter 28 weeks of preg­nancy - by about 9 per cent, and could pre­vent the deaths of about 15 un­born ba­bies a year in New Zealand.

The study was car­ried out in seven dis­trict health boards - Waitem­ata, Auck­land, Coun­ties Manukau, Waikato, MidCen­tral, Cap­i­tal & Coast and Can­ter­bury.

A 2009 Auck­land Univer­sity study also iden­ti­fied sleep po­si­tions in late preg­nancy as a risk fac­tor for still­birth.


The study was car­ried out in seven dis­trict health boards.

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