Although physical activity can provide health benefits to pregnant women, population-based research on the circumstances surrounding injuries from physical activity during pregnancy is lacking.
Physical activity and subsequent injuries among a cohort of 1469 pregnant women in North Carolina were examined prospectively from the third phase of the Pregnancy, Infection, and Nutrition Study between 2001 and 2005. Chi-square analyses were used to compare distributions of maternal characteristics among women who sustained injuries from physical activity and women who reported no injuries during pregnancy. Injury incidence rates were calculated.
Few pregnant women (N = 34) reported a physical activity-related injury during pregnancy. The rates of physical activity-related and exercise-related injuries during pregnancy were 3.2 per 1000 physical activity hours and 4.1 per 1000 exercise hours, respectively. The most common types of injuries were bruises or scrapes (55%). Among all injuries, 33% resulted from exercise and 67% resulted from nonexercise physical activities. Sixty-four percent of all injuries were due to falls.
The incidence of injury from physical activity was low during pregnancy. Women should continue to be encouraged to maintain involvement in physical activity during pregnancy, while being aware of the potential for injury, particularly falls, from these activities.
The authors are with the Dept of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.