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Older mothers at risk of pelvic floor injuries during birth

Oregon residents may know that women who become pregnant over the age of 35 are at an increased risk for many complications. Now, a study shows that women who are at an advanced maternal age at first birth have an increased risk of major pelvic floor trauma during delivery.

In the study, which was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers analyzed the results of a previous perinatal intervention study to determine if maternal age was associated with obstetric pelvic floor trauma in first-time mothers. They found that 46 percent of older women suffered one or more forms of pelvic floor trauma during their first vaginal birth. Further, older women who underwent forceps deliveries had an increased risk of all types of major pelvic floor trauma, while those who underwent vacuum deliveries had an increased risk of anal sphincter injuries.

The findings support previous studies that have linked forceps deliveries with major pelvic floor trauma. However, it should be noted that it is not yet known whether the women in the study will go on to have clinical pelvic floor disorders. It should also be noted that 80 percent of the women in the analysis were Caucasian. To confirm the findings, future studies with more diverse study populations and longer observation periods may be needed.

Mothers who are injured during the delivery process can suffer short-term and long-term disabilities like chronic pain and incontinence. They may want to meet with an attorney to determine whether the actions taken by a practitioner in the delivery room constituted actionable medical malpractice.

Source: 2 Minute Medicine, "Advanced maternal age associated with obstetric pelvic floor trauma," Maren Shapiro and Leah Bressler, May 1, 2016

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