(HealthDay News) — Women who sleep on their backs in the later months of pregnancy may have a relatively higher risk of stillbirth if they already have other risk factors, according to research published online January 7 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
To assess whether sleep position is connected to stillbirth risk, Adrienne Gordon, PhD, of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and colleagues studied 103 women who had suffered a late stillbirth – after the 31st week of pregnancy – and 192 pregnant women who were in the third trimester.
The researchers found that, of women who had a stillbirth, 9.7% said they had slept on their backs during pregnancy, including the last month. That compared with only 2.1% of women with healthy pregnancies. When the researchers accounted for other factors – such as smoking and women’s body weight – back-sleeping was still linked to an increased risk of stillbirth. Women who experienced stillbirth were more likely to have been followed during pregnancy for suspected fetal growth restriction, to not be in paid work, and to not have received education beyond high school.
“This study suggests that supine sleep position may be an additional risk for late-pregnancy stillbirth in an already compromised fetus,” the authors write. “The clinical management of suspected fetal growth restriction should be investigated further as a means of reducing late stillbirth.”