How Should I Interpret New Pregnancy Studies?

Are New Pregnancy Research Studies Reliable?

Possibly, but don’t believe everything you read. Pregnant women should never take action based on pregnancy studies they may read about online. After all, the online world is filled with misinformation which, unfortunately, may sound just as authoritative as truly reliable advice found on the Web. (Other media such as print publications or TV can be just as unreliable.) It’s wise to take everything with a grain of salt, except the information and advice you get from your physician. As your instinct likely tells you, only a trained medical professional, familiar with the specifics of your health history and overall condition, should advise you. If you should still have doubts after a discussion your doctor, get a second (informed and in-person) medical opinion.

How Should a Pregnant Woman to React When Reading Studies Done on Animals (or humans) That Seem to Contradict Common Consensus?

It can be scary out there in the world of sensational media coverage and over-the-top headlines. Do not follow any advice that stems from medical research studies without discussing it with your gynecologist. If you’re wondering whether a study with a trial population translates to your situation—you are right to wonder. So don’t take chances with anything you read or hear that may tell that you something is good or bad for pregnant women. Don’t stop or start any medication, diet or any activity based on studies–unless you have checked with your doctor.

Is There a Way to Determine Which Pregnancy Research Studies Are Credible? How Does a Pregnant Woman Know What to Believe?

  • It’s likely that credible original (not second hand) sources are believable, such as .edu or .org sites or medical journals–but it’s still not guaranteed that these facts are correct.
  • Even correct medical facts and research may not fit your particular situation.
  • Study results that you hear/read may be incorrectly interpreted by the reader (yourself or a well-meaning friend).
  • Research findings may be incorrectly explained or interpreted by a second hand source, even if it’s a major media outlet with a good reputation. It’s common for media outlets to make factual errors in their rush to be first out with “news” reports.
  • Some people purport to be experts and are not. Online sources in particular (and sometimes major media sources) are hard to vet.
  • Even exact quotes from recognized experts can be taken out of context, making them misleading or incorrect.

How Can I Understand Medical Research Studies About Pregnancy and Maternal Health?

It’s completely understandable that a mother-to-be would seek out and be interested in pregnancy research studies that they read or view in the media or online. Let these bits of information, no matter how credible they may seem, be starting points to discussions with your physician. Certainly, don’t let any publication frighten you and cause unhealthy stress. If the topic is urgent, just call your doctor to check out the information or discuss it with him or her on your next pre-natal visit.

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[Image Courtesy of BigStock Photo]

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