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Am J Public Health. 1999 Feb;89(2):209-12.

Prevalent urinary incontinence as a correlate of pregnancy, vaginal childbirth, and obstetric techniques.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Social Medicine, Aarhus University, Denmark.



This study examined the association between pregnancy, vaginal childbirth and obstetric techniques, and the prevalence of urinary incontinence among adult women aged 20 to 59 years.


A cross-sectional survey enrolled a random sample of 6240 women aged 20 to 59 years who were mailed a self-administered questionnaire focusing on urinary incontinence and other health variables. More than 75% of the women responded. The present analysis includes 4345 women who were not pregnant and did not experience a vaginal childbirth during 1994.


Multivariate prevalence odds ratios showed increases in relation to urinary incontinence during pregnancy, urinary incontinence immediately after a vaginal childbirth, and age of 30 years or more at the second vaginal childbirth. No multivariate associations were found for forceps delivery or vacuum extraction delivery, episiotomy, or perineal suturing.


Not only the process of childbirth itself but also processes during pregnancy seem to be strongly associated with prevalent urinary incontinence. Perineal suturing may be associated with prevalent urinary incontinence, whereas other obstetric techniques inspected do not seem to be so.

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