-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly three out of four
pregnant women experience bowel problems such as constipation and
diarrhea, but these issues don't significantly affect their quality
of life, a new study finds.
Researchers from Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood,
Ill., noted that these bowel issues are due to physiological and
hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy. Nutritional
supplements that women take during pregnancy also can play a role.
The study authors added that since women expect these problems to
arise during pregnancy, they're better able to tolerate them.
The study included 104 women in their first trimester of
pregnancy and 66 women in their third trimester. They completed two
questionnaires: one asking about the bowel disorders they
experienced and another on how these problems affected their
quality of life. Specifically, the women were asked if their bowel
issues made life less enjoyable, limited what they could wear or
eat, or made them feel embarrassed, vulnerable, angry, isolated or
The study revealed that 72 percent of the first-trimester
respondents and 61 percent of the third-trimester respondents had
one or more bowel disorders, including constipation, diarrhea,
bloating and irritable bowel syndrome.
On a scale of one to 100, with 100 being the least impact on
quality of life, the women's average score was 94.9. The
researchers said two issues had a measurable effect on quality of
life: Both constipation and bloating reduced the quality-of-life
score by approximately four points.
Study senior author Dr. Scott Graziano, associate professor of
obstetrics and gynecology at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch
School of Medicine, advises pregnant women to drink plenty of
fluids and consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily. The study found
that pregnant women consume only 16 to 17 grams of fiber a day.
Stool softeners and suppositories are safe for pregnant women,
The study's findings were presented earlier this month at the
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annual meeting
in New Orleans. Data and conclusions from studies presented at
medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in
a peer-reviewed journal.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has more
common problems affecting the digestive
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