Blood clots and pregnancy

May 9, 2012 3:07:02 PM PDT
Pregnancy is a normal state, but it can increase a woman's risk of blood clots. Clots can be dangerous to the mother to be and her growing baby, and a new study looks as just how much extra risk comes with pregnancy.

The study is from the British Medical Journal Online and it checked for blood clots in 200 French and Swiss women who were not at risk for the problem. The results should ease any worry of moms-to be.

It's Arlene Rodriquez fifth pregnancy. She's been taking an anticoagulant also called a blood thinner because she has had a blood clot in the past and has four other kids.

"In order for me not to have any further blood clot issues, they put me on anticoagulant injections," she said.

Previous blood clots as Arlene experienced are a risk factor for future clots during pregnancy. Today's report on pregnancy and clotting examined the pelvis and leg veins of pregnant women who had no risk factors for clots. They found the same rate of blood clots as in non-pregnant women. Good news for new-moms to be.

"The uterus gets so big the veins are compressed in the legs so out of all people, pregnant women have some of the highest risk of clots during pregnancy," Dr. Ashlesha Dayal, Montefiore Medical Center, said.

Risks for blood clots besides simply being pregnant include obesity, having more than three or four children, older age at pregnancy or having had a prior c-section.

The study confirms that if a woman doesn't have risk factors for blood clots, it's very unlikely that she will develop them during pregnancy.

When women such as Arlene are in the high risk group for clots, the use of blood thinners has to be carefully managed.

"If your blood is already think, and you're going to bleed normally from delivering your baby, you can have a significant hemorrhage from delivering your baby," Dayal said.

Until Arlene delivers, she's concerned about using a blood thinner, but has a good outlook.

The doctors here assured me that there are safe for you and protect the baby and protect any future clots from developing," Rodriguez said.

Other risks for clots in pregnancy include long trips in a car or plane, prolonged bed rest, and a family history of blood clots. If a woman becomes pregnant, she should discuss all these issues with her doctor, including painful leg swelling and sudden shortness of breath, which can be signs of a clot.


British Medical Journal Online

Montefiore Medical Center

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