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J Obstet Gynaecol. 2004 Nov;24(8):859-62.

Thromboembolic disease and air travel in pregnancy: a survey of advice given by obstetricians.

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University College London Hospitals, London. UK.


The objective of this study was to document the awareness of risk and the nature of advice given by obstetricians to pregnant women who intend to travel by air and to compare the results with the advice given in an opinion paper of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The results were based on a self-completed questionnaire. All registered members of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists comprising 1349 individuals, obtained from a list provided by the RCOG, were invited to participate. An anonymous postal questionnaire was completed by the individuals before publication of the opinion paper of the RCOG. A total of 862 (62%) questionnaires returned, and 690 (51%) were available for analysis; 67% of obstetricians regard flying as being safe throughout pregnancy, 33% only in the 2nd and 3rd trimester. Nearly all obstetricians advised on simple prophylactic measures such as mobilisation, fluid intake and leg exercise. Fifty-three per cent would advise the use of prophylactic aspirin (75 mg), 49% the use of compression stockings; 4% recommended heparinisation; 44% believed this advice to be applicable only for the 2nd and 3rd trimester, while the RCOG emphasises that the risk of developing venous thromboembolism begins in the 1st trimester. Obstetricians as well as other health professionals need to be made aware that advice on air travel in pregnancy needs to start in the 1st trimester. Further research is needed to explore the relevance of the duration of flight when considering the application of thromboprophylactic measures as well as the value and choice of pharmacological treatment such as aspirin and heparin.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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