Assistant Professor Leads Study on Women with Spinal Cord Injuries and Pregnancy

Jan 14, 2020

Dr. Anne BerndlDr. Anne Berndl, lead of the SCI-UP Registry An increasing number of women with spinal cord injuries (SCI) are choosing to have children, however, women with SCI have special considerations during pregnancy, particularly surrounding bladder health care and management. A recent study led by Assistant Professor Dr. Anne Berndl (Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre), aims to improve understanding surrounding the impact of pregnancy on urogenital health. Last year, this project received a generous grant from the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation to continue their research into care for women with SCI.

The SCI-UP Registry (Spinal Cord Injury Urogenital Health and Pregnancy) was created in part by Dr. Berndl and co-investigator Dr. Anne Harris (epidemiologist and Assistant Professor at Ryerson University's School of Occupational and Public Health) to help understand the differences in bladder health for women with SCI who have and have not had a pregnancy. The Registry also provides an opportunity to learn more about other important pregnancy and birth outcomes in this population, such as risk factors for preterm birth, triggers of autonomic dysreflexia and incidence of breastfeeding. It is hoped that this project will help facilitate evidence-based decision-making by women with spinal cord injuries and their physicians during pregnancy, resulting in improved quality of care.

"This study is needed now to help women with spinal cord injuries make informed decisions about their reproductive health," said Dr. Berndl. "Women with disabilities need to be included in research to increase knowledge, decrease stigma, and ultimately improve the health of women and babies."

Researchers are continuing to collect information from women with SCI through an online survey.

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