TUESDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- For pregnant women, reducing the risk for stillbirth may be as simple as sleeping on their left side, New Zealand researchers suggest.
In fact, women in the study who didn't sleep on their left side had twice the risk of having a stillborn infant, the researchers noted.
Overall, "the increase in risk [from right-sided sleeping] is small for the individual," stressed lead author Tomasina Stacey, a graduate student in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Auckland. However, "as many women do not sleep on their left side in late pregnancy, it may have an important impact on a population level," she reasoned.
"This is a new and potentially exciting hypothesis, but further research is required before all women are advised to sleep on their left side in late pregnancy," Stacey concluded.
Experts say improved blood flow to the fetus might play a role in any benefit of left-sided sleep, although that remains a theory.
The report is published in the June 14 online edition of the BMJ.
For the study, the researchers interviewed 155 women who delivered a stillborn baby at at least 28 weeks' gestation. They compared these women with 310 pregnant women with typical ongoing pregnancies.
The women were asked about their sleep position during the last month of their pregnancy, the last week of their pregnancy, and on the night they believed the stillbirth occurred.
In addition, the women were asked about snoring, daytime sleepiness, if they regularly slept during the day during the last month of pregnancy, how much sleep they got at night and how many times they got up to use the toilet at night.
The researchers found no connection between snoring or daytime sleepiness and risk of late stillbirth.
However, women who slept on their back or on their right side on the night before
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