Geneva, Dec 8

M

ore than a third of women worldwide are likely to experience a long-term health problem such as depression, low back pain, among others, caused by childbirth, according to a new study published on Friday in The Lancet Global Health.

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The study shows a high burden of postnatal conditions that persist in the months or even years after giving birth, affecting about 40 million women each year.

These include pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia), affecting more than a third (35 per cent) of postpartum women, low back pain (32 per cent), anal incontinence (19 per cent), urinary incontinence (8 per cent-31 per cent), anxiety (9 per cent-24 per cent), depression (11 per cent-17 per cent), perineal pain (11 per cent), fear of childbirth (tokophobia) (6 per cent-15 per cent), and secondary infertility (11 per cent).

"Many postpartum conditions cause considerable suffering in women's daily life long after birth, both emotionally and physically, and yet they are largely underappreciated, underrecognised, and underreported," said Dr. Pascale Allotey, Director of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Research at WHO.

"Throughout their lives, and beyond motherhood, women need access to a range of services from health-care providers who listen to their concerns and meet their needs -- so they not only survive childbirth but can enjoy good health and quality of life," Dr. Allotey said.

The study, based on a literature review spanning the last 12 years, showed that there are no recent high-quality guidelines to support effective treatment for 40 per cent of the 32 priority conditions analysed.

The team called for greater attention to the long-term health of women and girls -- after and also before pregnancy. The researchers call for greater recognition within the health care system of the common problems, many of which occur beyond the point where women typically have access to postnatal services.

Effective care throughout pregnancy and childbirth is also a critical preventive factor, they argued, to detect risks and avert complications that can lead to lasting health issues after birth.

1 in 3 new mothers suffer lasting health problems after childbirth: Lancet

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