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Sleep Positions and Practices May Influence Late Stillbirth

Women who sleep on their right side or back may be more likely to experience late stillbirth

WEDNESDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Maternal sleep positions and practices may be associated with late stillbirth risk, according to a study published online June 14 in BMJ.

Tomasina Stacey, R.M., M.P.H., from the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues investigated whether snoring, sleep position, and other sleep practices were associated with late stillbirth risk. Data on maternal snoring, daytime sleepiness, and sleep position upon going to sleep and waking were collected from 155 women with a singleton late stillbirth (at or after 28 gestational weeks) a few weeks after stillbirth, and from 310 control women with ongoing pregnancies. Analyses were adjusted for confounding variables.

The investigators found a stillbirth prevalence of 3.09 per 1,000 births with no correlation between risk and snoring or daytime sleepiness. Compared to women who slept on their left side, late stillbirth was more likely in women who slept on their backs or right side (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 2.54 and 1.74, respectively). Absolute late stillbirth risk was higher in women who did not go to sleep on their left compared to the ones who did (3.93 versus 1.96 per 1,000). Compared to women who got up to go to the bathroom more than once, women who got up once or less had an increased risk of late stillbirth (adjusted OR, 2.28). Regularly sleeping during the day was also associated with an increased risk of late stillbirth (adjusted OR, 2.04).

"This is the first time that an association has been described between maternal sleep practices and late stillbirth risk, and the findings need to be treated with caution," the authors write.

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