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“It’s going to affect our lives, our sport and our career”: time to raise the bar for pregnant and postpartum athletes
  1. Margie H Davenport1,
  2. Rshmi Khurana2,
  3. Jane S Thornton3,
  4. Tara-Leigh F McHugh1
  1. 1 Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  2. 2 Departments of Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  3. 3 Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Western Ontario Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Margie H Davenport, Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6R 3C9, Canada; mdavenpo{at}

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The last 50 years have seen a transformational shift in attitudes towards greater acceptance and support for female athletes. Since the signing of Title IX in 1972 in the USA, we have moved from banning female athletes from participating in marathons because they were ‘not physically capable’ to celebrating breathtaking performance, attendance and viewership records. Additionally, international sporting bodies have demonstrated a renewed commitment to sex and gender equity in sport. The development (and investment) in the FIFA Women’s Football Strategy in 2018 has catalysed exceptional growth in the number of females playing football. The IOC has emphasised its commitment to the ‘promotion of women in sport at all levels and in all structures’. The Tokyo Olympic Games marked significant progress towards this goal with the near realisation of gender-equal participation. These investments are essential as women’s participation in sport typically declines through adolescence, often from a lack of opportunity.

This commentary highlights the urgent need to advance research and policy related to the care of pregnant and postpartum athletes. We acknowledge that sex (biological attributes) and gender (sociocultural factors) are distinct and non-binary concepts, yet sex and gender are often conflated …

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  • Twitter @ExercisePreg, @janesthornton

  • Contributors MHD drafted the editorial, and RK, JST and T-LFMcH edited and approved the final document.

  • Funding MHD is supported by the Christenson Professor in Active Healthy Living. JST is supported by a Canada Research Chair in Injury Prevention and Physical Activity for Health.

  • Competing interests JST is a member of the BJSM Editorial Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.