32. Pregnancy in Women with Physical Disabilities

  1. John T. Queenan MD2,
  2. Catherine Y. Spong MD3 and
  3. Charles J. Lockwood MD4
  1. Caroline C. Signore MD, MPH

Published Online: 4 JAN 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781119963783.ch32

Queenan's Management of High-Risk Pregnancy: An Evidence-Based Approach, Sixth Edition

Queenan's Management of High-Risk Pregnancy: An Evidence-Based Approach, Sixth Edition

How to Cite

Signore, C. C. (2012) Pregnancy in Women with Physical Disabilities, in Queenan's Management of High-Risk Pregnancy: An Evidence-Based Approach, Sixth Edition (eds J. T. Queenan, C. Y. Spong and C. J. Lockwood), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781119963783.ch32

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC, USA

  2. 3

    Bethesda, MD, USA

  3. 4

    Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA

Author Information

  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, MD, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 4 JAN 2012
  2. Published Print: 24 FEB 2012

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470655764

Online ISBN: 9781119963783



  • women with physical disabilities, in pregnancy;
  • women of reproductive age, some mobility limitations;
  • bladder dysfunction and UTIs;
  • venous thromboembolic disease;
  • weight gain, mobility, skin integrity;
  • women at risk, psychosocial in pregnancy;
  • illicit drug use, more common in women with disabilities;
  • uneventful pregnancies and normal birth outcome;
  • multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cerebral palsy;
  • pregnancy course, outcomes, and disabling condition


According to United States census data, more than 11% of women of reproductive age report some type of disability, with mobility limitations most frequently cited. Among women aged 18–44 years, 1.1 million use a cane, wheelchair or other mobility aid and 1.1 million have a disabling condition serious enough to cause difficulty with activities of daily living. The incidence of spinal cord injury among women is increasing, and with today's improved management, growing numbers of women survive acute traumatic spinal cord injury each year. Multiple sclerosis rates are also increasing, with peak incidence in women of child-bearing age. Improved survival of very preterm infants and infants with congenital anomalies is translating into increasing numbers of women with cerebral palsy and spina bifida reaching their reproductive years. Most women with disabilities do not have impaired fertility, and many want to be mothers. Thus, practitioners should expect increasing numbers of women with disabilities presenting for pregnancy care. There is, however, an unfortunate paucity of data to inform counseling and guide management of pregnancy in women with physical disabilities. This chapter will summarize current evidence on pregnancy risks and outcomes among women with disabilities.