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J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2012 Jun 6;94(11):e77. doi: 10.2106/JBJS.K.00707.

Childbearing and pregnancy characteristics of female orthopaedic surgeons.

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  • 1Park Nicollet Orthopedics, 15800 95th Avenue North, Maple Grove, MN 55369, USA.



The number of women entering orthopaedic surgery is steadily increasing. Information regarding pregnancy and childbearing is important to understand as it increasingly affects residency programs, clinical practices, and the female surgeons and their offspring.


One thousand and twenty-one female surgeons completed an anonymous, voluntary, 199-item online survey distributed via individual female surgeon interest groups and word of mouth in nine specialties: general surgery, gynecology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, otolaryngology, plastic surgery, podiatry, and urology. Two hundred and twenty-three survey responses from orthopaedic surgeons were compared with those of the other surgical specialists as well as American Pregnancy Association national data to assess differences, if any, in pregnancy characteristics, demographics, and satisfaction.


The overall reported complication rate for all pregnancies among orthopaedic surgeons was significantly higher than the rate in the general American population (31.2% [eighty-two of 263] compared with 14.5%). There was an increased risk of preterm delivery among orthopaedic surgeons compared with a cohort of the general U.S. population matched according to age, race, health, and socioeconomic status (risk ratio, 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.3 to 4.6). There was an increased risk of preterm labor and preterm delivery among women who reported working more than sixty hours per week (odds ratio, 4.95; 95% CI, 1.4 to 36.6). Female orthopaedic surgeons took shorter maternity leave during training than during clinical practice (median, four compared with seven weeks). The mean duration of breastfeeding was significantly shorter during training than during clinical practice (4.7 compared with 8.3 months, p = 0.03).


Female orthopaedic surgeons had an increased risk of pregnancy complications, particularly preterm delivery, compared with the general U.S. population. We found an increased risk of increased risk of preterm labor and delivery in surgeons working more than sixty hours per week during pregnancy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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