A federally funded study of the feet of pregnant women reveals that most end up with longer, wider feet after childbirth, a condition that can result in joint problems.
Some 70 percent of women had bigger feet five months after giving birth, and the changes are likely permanent, said the University of Iowa study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
"There was a drop in the arch of the foot. And there was a reduction in how rigid the tissue was holding up the arch," said researcher Neil Segal on an audio blog on the Health and Human Services website. "The foot spread out, and there was an increase in the length as well as the width of the feet."
He looked at 49 women before and after they gave birth. "Because the feet didn't return to a smaller size, Segal thinks the changes are permanent. He thinks they may partially account for some women's joint problems," said HHS.
The department did not reveal how much the study cost.