Intended for healthcare professionals


Sharper focus on uncomplicated pregnancy

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 21 November 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f6470
  1. Marian Knight, National Institute for Health Research professor in public health
  1. 1National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, Oxford OX3 7LF, UK
  1. marian.knight{at}

May help develop and evaluate population interventions

Many studies have identified factors associated with complications of pregnancy, such as maternal age, ethnicity, obesity, smoking, and pre-existing medical conditions.1 2 3 In a linked paper (doi:10.1136/bmj.f6398), Chappell and colleagues take the opposite approach and use information from a large cohort of nulliparous women in Australia and the United Kingdom to investigate factors associated with uncomplicated pregnancy.4 This robust approach is welcome in the context of initiatives to step back from the medicalisation of pregnancy and provides useful information for women, clinicians, and policy makers.

Video Abstract

The authors divide factors associated with uncomplicated pregnancy into those that they consider modifiable—such as raised body mass index, drug misuse before pregnancy, and fruit intake before pregnancy—and those considered not amenable to change, including a family history of hypertension and maternal socioeconomic index. The study is observational and we cannot assume causality, so replication in similarly robust studies may be needed before we consider interventions to help change these modifiable factors. Nevertheless, it is clear that these factors will not be modified by actions during pregnancy alone. Public health …

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