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Pregnancy in Women with Physical Disabilities

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Note:This event has already taken place and the page is no longer being updated.

January 25-26, 2010


Office of the Director, NICHD


North Bethesda Marriott, Bethesda, Maryland


Approximately 5 percent to 12 percent of U.S. women ages 15 years to 44 years report a disability; mobility impairments are most frequently cited. More than 1 million women of childbearing age report that they need assistance with activities of daily living because of a disabling condition, such as (but not limited to) spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, neural tube defects, and cerebral palsy. Most women with physical disabilities are capable of becoming pregnant, yet very little is known about the course and outcomes of pregnancy among women with physical disabilities. Similarly, there are scant data to guide counseling and management of pregnancy, the puerperium, and the transition to parenthood for these women and their families.

The NICHD sponsored this two-day workshop to review the current body of evidence on management of pregnancy in women with physical disabilities, to identify key gaps in knowledge, and to recommend priority avenues for future research. The meeting was organized by the NICHD’s Pregnancy and Perinatology (PP) Branch, Center for Developmental Biology and Perinatal Medicine (CDBPM), and National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR).

Invited speakers gave presentations on multiple topics, including the epidemiology of disability in reproductive-aged women, potential social and medical risk factors in pregnancy, the reciprocal effects of physical disabilities on pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, prevention and management of complications arising in pregnancy, issues in postpartum care, and early parenting.

Representatives from stakeholder organizations including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke also participated. The workshop was chaired by Dr. Sean Blackwell, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Director, Larry C. Gilstrap M.D. Center for Perinatal and Women’s Health Research at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Special guest, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Wanda Jones, opened the workshop proceedings.

More Information

Workshop Agenda (Includes presentations from selected speakers)


Dr. Caroline Signore, PP Branch, CDBPM, NICHD
Phone: 301-496-5577

Last Reviewed: 11/30/2012
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