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Science confirms pregnancy permanently changes foot size

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Pregnancy does permanently change a woman's foot size, finds study.

Women can tell you their feet get bigger after pregnancy. Now researchers admit it’'s a scientific fact that pregnancy permanently changes a woman's foot size and shape.

Researchers at University of Iowa suspect the reason is extra weight of carrying a baby that leads to fallen arches. Flat feet is a common complaint among pregnant women.

Neil Segal, M.D., UI associate professor of orthopedics and rehabilitation explained in a press release until now there wasn't any scientific literature to back up what women have been saying about how pregnancy changes their foot size.

Previous surveys conducted by Dr. Segal found 30 to 60 percent of women said their shoe size changed after they were pregnant, compared to just 13 percent of women who had never been pregnant.

“In order to study this more scientifically, we measured women's feet at the beginning of their pregnancy and five months after delivery. We found that pregnancy does indeed lead to permanent changes in the feet”, Segal said.

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The study that included 49 women revealed about 60 to 70 percent of women’s feet become longer and wider after pregnancy.

The researchers measured the women’s arches at the start of pregnancy and again 5 months after childbirth.

Dropped arches was associated with increased foot size between 2 and 10 mm, with the biggest change occurring during the first pregnancy.

Segal said the finding could explain why women seem to be at higher risk than men for spine, hip and knee pain and arthritis.

He plans to do more studies to find out what health risks might accompany foot changes associated with pregnancy. The hope is to find ways to protect a woman’s musculoskeletal health during pregnancy.

The study shows a woman’s feet do become longer and wider after pregnancy which could lead to arthritis later in life. The change seems to be permanent and is likely related to weight gain and hormonal changes that make the joints more malleable. The finding is published in the March, 2013 American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Did your feet get bigger from pregnancy?

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D Sharon Pruitt