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Diastasis recti abdominis during pregnancy and 12 months after childbirth: prevalence, risk factors and report of lumbopelvic pain
  1. Jorun Bakken Sperstad1,
  2. Merete Kolberg Tennfjord1,2,
  3. Gunvor Hilde2,
  4. Marie Ellström-Engh2,3,
  5. Kari Bø1
  1. 1Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sports Sciences, Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway
  3. 3Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jorun Bakken Sperstad, Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, P.O. Box 4014 Ullevaal stadion, Oslo 0806, Norway; jorun.b.s{at}gmail.com

Abstract

Background/aim Diastasis recti abdominis (DRA) is defined as a separation of the 2 muscle bellies of rectus abdominis. To date there is scant knowledge on prevalence, risk factors, and consequences of the condition. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence of DRA during pregnancy and post partum, presence of possible risk factors, and the occurrence of lumbopelvic pain among women with and without DRA.

Methods This prospective cohort study followed 300 first-time pregnant women from pregnancy till 12 months post partum. Data were collected by electronic questionnaire and clinical examinations. DRA was defined as a palpated separation of ≥2 fingerbreadths either 4.5 cm above, at or 4.5 cm below the umbilicus. Women with and without DRA were compared with independent samples Student's t-test and χ2/Fisher exact test, and OR with significance level >0.05.

Results Prevalence of DRA was 33.1%, 60.0%, 45.4%, and 32.6% at gestation week 21, 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months post partum, respectively. No difference in risk factors was found when comparing women with and without DRA. OR showed a greater likelihood for DRA among women reporting heavy lifting ≥20 times weekly (OR 2.18 95% CI 1.05 to 4.52). There was no difference in reported lumbopelvic pain (p=0.10) in women with and without DRA.

Conclusions Prevalence of mild DRA was high both during pregnancy and after childbirth. Women with and without DRA reported the same amount of lumbopelvic pain 12 months post partum.

  • Pregnancy
  • Risk factor
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvic
  • Lower back

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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