Parachuting and Pregnancy: What Do We Know About Pregnant Skydivers and the Risks They Are Taking?


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Abstract

Objective:There is little medical knowledge about the risks of skydiving during pregnancy. Some national parachuting associations ask for a doctor's permission; others recommend not jumping at all during pregnancy. This article provides survey data and a literature review of pregnancy and parachuting/skydiving related issues to help the pregnant skydiver and her obstetrician make an informed decision. Survey data presented include pregnancy, delivery, and parachuting information from skydivers who jumped during pregnancy.Design:International retrospective anonymous online questionnaire considering the Checklist for Reporting Results of Internet E-Surveys (CHERRIE). The PubMed database was searched with using the terms “skydive,” “pregnancy,” and “parachute” (query April 2013).Setting:Web page questionnaire on skydivers' epidemiology, experience, and pregnancy-related information.Participants:Fifty-seven parous female skydivers.Assessment of Risk Factors:Information on athletes' experience, weather conditions, obstetric history (gravida, gestational week), delivery mode was obtained.Main Outcome Measures:Epidemiology of pregnant skydivers and literature review to provide information on skydiving risks.Results:Women do actively decide to skydive while pregnant. The majority of our participants were between 25-year-old and 35-year-old primips with 100 to 1000 jumps experience, answering the questionnaire from a European IP address. Precautions are taken in terms of weather conditions, gear, or sports partner. The literature review found no relevant literature regarding the question. Literature is searched for risk factors that come close to the ones in skydiving (ie, oxygen saturation, shock forces, and others). Further studies are needed to show the long-term effect of stress or low O2 saturation on antenatal programming, or short-term hypoxia and pregnancy outcome in pregnant skydiving women and their offspring.Conclusions:Pregnancy itself is a risk factor for injuries. Injuries in pregnancy are clearly associated with an unfavorable pregnancy outcome. The recommendation “do not skydive during pregnancy” is the safest approach. A possible lesser risk alternative to skydiving could be wind-tunnel training.Clinical Relevance:This article provides insights into the pregnant skydiver's decision making regarding the sports. In combination with the literature review, we provide up-to-date easy to understand information on the possible risk factors. This is a valuable source of information for the care providers of female skydivers to understand and compare the risk factors of this sport. With this information, the professional recommendation and relationship are strengthened. This article also guides the need for further research. Possible research areas include pregnancy and sports-related risk factors, placentation and prenatal programming, physical and psychological factors associated with skydiving.

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