HealthDay News — Female surgeons are at increased risk for infertility and pregnancy complications, according to a study published online July 28 in JAMA Surgery.

Erika L. Rangel, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues surveyed male and female attending and resident surgeons with children to assess infertility and pregnancy complications among female surgeons. The analysis included 850 surgeons (692 women and 158 men).

The researchers found that 42% of female surgeons reported a pregnancy loss, more than twice the rate of the general population. Female surgeons had fewer children (mean, 1.8 vs 2.3 for male surgeons), were more likely to delay having children because of surgical training (65 vs 43.7%), and were more likely to use assisted reproductive technology (24.9 vs 17.1%). Female surgeons were more likely to have major pregnancy complications (48.3 vs 27.2%), which remained significant after controlling for age, work hours, in vitro fertilization use, and multiple gestation (odds ratio, 1.72), compared with female nonsurgeon partners of surgeons. There was a higher risk for major pregnancy complications among female surgeons operating 12 hours or greater per week during the last trimester of pregnancy versus those operating less than 12 hours per week (odds ratio, 1.57).

“We need to start with policy changes at the level of residency programs, to make it easier and more acceptable for women to have children when it’s healthier, while also changing policies within surgical departments,” Rangel said in a statement.

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