Pregnancy in women with physical disabilities

Caroline Signore, Catherine Y. Spong, Danuta Krotoski, Nancy L. Shinowara, Sean C. Blackwell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development sponsored a 2-day workshop to assess the body of evidence on pregnancy in women with physical disabilities, identify gaps in knowledge, and formulate recommendations for further research. A multidisciplinary group of experts discussed available data on pregnancy outcomes among women with varying physically disabling conditions, medical and psychosocial risks for mothers and children, and barriers to prenatal care and parenting for women with physical disabilities. Existing evidence is limited by a preponderance of retrospective single-site studies of small sample sizes. For most women, pregnancy outcomes are favorable. However, increased rates of certain adverse outcomes, such as low birth weight (related to preterm birth or growth restriction) and cesarean delivery, have been reported in women with spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or other conditions. Common morbidities across conditions may include urinary tract infections, decreased mobility and independence, skin ulceration, respiratory compromise, interpersonal abuse, stress, and mood disorders. Socioeconomic, physical, and attitudinal barriers to antenatal care and independent parenting can be problematic.Current evidence, although limited, indicates that most women with physical disabilities will have good pregnancy outcomes; however, some data suggest that rates of a range of complications may be more common among women with physical disabilities, depending on the nature and severity of the underlying condition. Many questions remain unanswered. Establishment of a systematic and comprehensive registry of pregnancy course and outcomes among women with physical disabilities is of high priority for addressing persistent gaps in knowledge.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)935-947
Number of pages13
JournalObstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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