Women who sleep on their backs or right sides during the later stages of pregnancy could be putting their unborn child at risk of being stillborn, experts claim.

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, found that the risk of stillbirth doubles over the last three months of pregnancy when compared with women who sleep on their left side.

Although the scientists claim no link has been established, they believe the results of the study of 250 women suggests that restricted blood flow to the baby may be a reason for the findings.

They also discovered that women who got up to go to the toilet once or less during the night before their baby died were more than twice as likely to experience a stillbirth, compared to those who got up more frequently.

The researchers wrote online in the British Medical Journal: "If our findings are confirmed, promoting optimal sleep position in late pregnancy may have the potential to reduce the incidence of stillbirth."

Posted by Robert Mair on 15.6.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com