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Does Bed Rest Improve Outcome of Pregnancy?

Researchers Find Answer Isn't Clear for Women With High Blood Pressure

Still Recommended

Pennsylvania ob-gyn John T. Repke, MD, agrees that there is a paucity of clinical evidence showing that bed rest improves pregnancy outcomes in women with hypertension. But he adds that bed rest clearly reduces daily fluctuations in blood pressure, which may have an impact on outcomes.

"The bottom line is that we still recommend bed rest to many, many women who have blood pressure disorders or mild preeclampsia, to flatten out blood pressure throughout the day," he says.

"It makes sense that this should make a difference, but we don't know with certainty that it will change outcomes one iota."

Repke says he is careful to explain this to his bed-rest patients so that they don't feel that they are to blame if something bad happens.

He is chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Penn State College of Medicine-Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and is the former president of the North American Society for the Study of Hypertension in Pregnancy.

"Human nature being what it is, a woman who doesn't comply fully may feel guilty when there is an unfortunate outcome," he says. "We don't want patients to think it was their fault because they got up and did the ironing or went to the bathroom."

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