Pregnancy ´permanently alters foot size´
Pregnancy can permanently change the size and shape of women´s feet, making them up to one shoe size larger and causing the arches to drop, according to a new study.
Flattening and swelling of the feet are common complaints during pregnancy as the body changes shape and joints loosen to support extra weight, but researchers found that the changes may not reverse after childbirth.
A study of 49 pregnant women found that in 60 to 70 per cent of cases the feet became longer and wider after the first trimester, but had not even begun to shrink five months after giving birth.
The lasting change in foot shape could put mothers at higher risk of arthritis later in life and explain why the condition is more common among women than men, researchers said.
Dr Neil Segal, associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at the University of Iowa, who led the study, explained: "We know that women, and especially women who have had children, are disproportionately affected by musculoskeletal disorders.
"It is possible that these foot changes that occur during pregnancy may help explain why, in comparison with men, women are at higher risk for pain or arthritis in their feet, knees, hips, and spines."
Researchers measured women´s feet once in their first trimester and again five months after childbirth.
Results showed that the arches became lower and less rigid during that period while foot length increased by between 2mm and 10mm, meaning in some cases the women would have been one shoe size larger.
The fact that not all women were affected suggests that the changes occur during the first pregnancy and do not reverse, meaning no change is needed during future pregnancies, the researchers reported.
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