Fainting During Pregnancy May Cause Problems for Mom and Baby

Pregnant women who faint (syncope) during pregnancy, specially in their first trimester, may have a higher risk of health problems for themselves and their babies according to new research published in Journal of the American Heart Association.Researchers examined 481,930 pregnancies; in Alberta, Canada between 2005 and 2014 for trends in timing; frequency and health complications for infants and women occurring in the first year after pregnancy; among women who fainted during their pregnancies.

They found 4,667 women had a fainting episode; and nearly a third (32.3 %) of them occurred in the first trimester. About 44 % occurred in the second trimester and 23.6 percent in the third trimester; while 8 % had more than one fainting episode.

Congenital anomalies

Researchers also found that; The incidence of congenital anomalies; among children born of pregnancies with multiple fainting episodes was 4.9 % t; significantly higher than the 2.9 % among children of pregnancies with only one fainting spell. The rate of premature birth; at 18.3 %, was higher in pregnancies with fainting during the first trimester, compare to 15.8 % during the second trimester; 14.2 % in the third trimester and 15 % for pregnancies without fainting.

Within one year after delivery, women who faint during pregnancy had higher rates of abnormal heart rhythms and fainting episodes; compare to women who didn’t faint during pregnancy. After an average follow-up of 4.5 to 5 years; the rates of congenital anomalies were 3.1 % for children of pregnancies with syncope; compare 2.6 percent for those without syncope.

There are very limit data on the frequency of fainting during pregnancy,” said Padma Kaul, Ph.D., senior study author and professor; of medicine at the University of Alberta in Canada. In our study, fainting during pregnancy occur in about 1 %; or 10 per 1,000 pregnancies, but appears to be increasing by 5 % each year.”

Fainting during pregnancy

“Fainting during pregnancy has previously been thought to follow a relatively benign course,” Kaul said. “The findings of our study suggest that timing of fainting during pregnancy may be important. When the faint happens early during pregnancy or multiple times during pregnancy;it may be associate with both short and long term health issues for the baby and the mother.”The data suggest that women who faint during pregnancy should have closer monitoring and potential follow-up with a cardiologist after the birth, she said.

Although the research provides real-world data; on fainting during pregnancy in a large population base with universal health care, it has a few limitations. Because the study is retrospective and observational it may underestimate the true incidence of syncope during pregnancy. Researchers said their findings should be confirm in other large population-based studies.