HealthDay News — The demands of training may negatively affect family planning and reproductive health for both female and male plastic surgery residents and fellows, according to a study published in the November issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Debra A. Bourne, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues conducted an anonymous, electronic survey of current plastic surgery residents and fellows in the United States (mean age, 31.7 years) to assess childbearing and family planning challenges.

Based on 307 responses (27 percent resident response rate), the researchers found that 58.6 percent of respondents were married and 35.3 percent reported at least one pregnancy for themselves or for their partner. The majority of respondents reported intentionally postponing having children because of their career (male, 67.4 percent; female, 76.5 percent). More than half of female trainees (56 percent) reported an obstetrical complication. Nearly one in five trainees used assisted reproductive technology (19.6 percent). About 44 percent of trainees took less than six weeks of maternity leave (mean maternity leave, 5.5 weeks; mean paternity leave, 1.2 weeks). Of female trainees, 61 percent breastfed for six months and 29.4 percent reported availability of lactation facilities near operating rooms.

“Exceptional women and men who wish to have a family may be discouraged from entering this field if changes are not instituted to accommodate healthy pregnancies, reasonable parental leave, and childcare options,” the authors write.

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