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J Fam Pract. 1998 Sep;47(3):209-12.

Changes in functional health status during normal pregnancy.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, USA.



Pregnancy is a period of physical and emotional stress that can have a significant impact on the well-being of an expectant mother. To explore the extent to which normal pregnancy affects the life of a mother, we sought to assess changes in a standard quality-of-life measure throughout normal pregnancy.


We performed serial assessments of health-related functional status in a cohort of 125 healthy women who obtained care from a residency-training clinic during pregnancy. Before each antenatal visit, women completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short-Form 36 (SF-36) along with a questionnaire to assess any complications with their pregnancy. Scores for each of the SF-36 subscales were calculated and examined to determine the influence of gestational age and socioeconomic factors on quality of life during pregnancy.


Of the eight subscales of the SF-36, three of the four associated with physical health status changed significantly with gestational age. Physical functioning (P < .001), role limitation due to physical problems (P < .001), and pain scales (P < .001) all decreased as pregnancy progressed. These scales showed linear decreases during the first two trimesters, with relative flattening in the third trimester. Sociodemographic factors such as employment, level of income, and presence of a spouse or support partner had only a small influence on functional status in pregnancy.


Health-related functional status during pregnancy changes only for physical measures of health. Sociodemographic factors appear to have only limited influence on health-related functional status during pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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