Bone Status in Activity-Restricted Pregnant Women Assessed Using Calcaneal Quantitative Ultrasound

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Pregnancy-induced bone loss may be further exacerbated by activity restriction (AR). The authors compared the bone status of AR hospitalized (≥ 7 days) pregnant women in the third trimester to ambulatory (AM) women at the same gestational age, using a prospective cross-sectional design.


AR was quantified in AR women by daily step counts using a pedometer for 7 consecutive days. Bone status was evaluated in the left and right calcaneus bones of both AR (n = 13) and AM (n = 20) women using quantitative ultrasound (QUS).


AR women took an average of 1,504 + 1,377 steps/day. Speed of sound scores (1,543.05 + 41.97 m/s vs. 1,569.60 + 46.12 m/s) and broadband ultrasound attenuation (BUA) scores (107.93 ± 9.59 dB/MHz vs. 114.69 ± 17.06 dB/MHz) were not different between the AR and AM groups, respectively (p > .05). However, bone stiffness index (SI) scores (84.0 + 16.2 vs. 95.8 + 22.1, respectively, p < .05) were different between groups, indicating a greater relative risk of future fracture in the AR women.


Increased fracture risk appears to be a negative side effect incurred through an average of 16 days of hospitalized AR in late pregnancy. Further investigations using a larger sample size are necessary to evaluate the effect of antepartum AR on bone status in the postpartum period to determine if bone status is further attenuated by breastfeeding or if recovery occurs with resumption of ambulation and return of menses and to assess future risk in these women as they age. Prenatal care providers should be made aware of these risks.

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