Preventative bed rest during pregnancy may be more harmful than helpful

New research shows evidence that prescribed antepartum bed rest may result in babies that are smaller than normal as well as other problems.

A study published in the latest issue of BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH FOR NURSING reports that prescribed bed rest during pregnancy may cause a myriad of problems for mothers as well as babies with lower than normal birth weights. This news is alarming considering antepartum bed rest is prescribed for more than 700,000 pregnant women in the United States each year in order to prevent early labor and other pregnancy complications.

Although there is lack of clinical evidence that bed rest is indeed effective, obstetricians continue to prescribe it.

The NIH supported study, led by Dr. Judith A. Maloni of the Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, consisted of 141 women with high-risk pregnancies who were treated with hospital bed rest. According to the results of the $1.7 million study, bed rest contributes to weight loss in the mother (when weight gain is imperative at later stages of pregnancy) which in turn is associated with an increased risk of fetal growth restriction. The women taking part in the study experienced other problems related to bed rest including backache, joint and muscle soreness, headaches, muscle loss, and depression.

The article “Antepartum Bed Rest: Maternal Weight Change and Infant Birth Weight” can be found in the latest issue of BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH FOR NURSING(January 2004, Volume 5, Number 3). SAGE Publications is currently offering free online access to articles in BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH FOR NURSING until March 31, 2004. To access this article for free, as well many others that may be of interest, please visit

The study was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Nursing Research R01-NR03323.

For more information on Biological Research for Nursing, visit the journal’s homepage at

Dr. Maloni’s Pregnancy Bed Rest website can be found at

SAGE Publications, an independent global publisher of journals, books, textbooks, electronic media, and other products for scholarly, educational, and professional markets, sets an international standard of excellence in social science and STM publishing. For more information about SAGE Publications, please visit

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