A paper reporting the results of a survey of women surgeons on the topic of pregnancy appears in Archives of Surgery online ahead of print.

Responses were received from 1,937 female surgeons — 49.6% of those who were sent surveys. Not surprisingly, the findings were that women surgeons feel stigmatized about pregnancy during surgical residency training.

Things are improving, but slowly. The percentage of women reporting that pregnancy during training is stigmatized fell from 76% for women who graduated more than 30 years ago, all the way down to 67% for women who graduated less than 10 years ago. The difference was statistically significant [p = 0.001] but hardly significant in the real world. At this rate, pregnancy among female surgical residents should be no longer stigmatized by about the year 2127.

According to Table 3 of the paper, the cumulative rate of pregnancy of female surgery residents who graduated fewer than 30 years ago is 32.2%. To put it another way, 1/3 of all female surgery residents became pregnant at least once during their five years of training.

The most interesting finding was that even women faculty and women residents were perceived as having a negative influence on women surgeons contemplating childbearing, and this negativity has not abated over the years. Meanwhile, the percentage of both residents who are women and those who become pregnant is increasing.

Male residents can get sick or be injured and miss time. Should there be any reason to deal with pregnancy differently?

What do you think about this?

Skeptical Scalpel is a practicing surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board certified in general surgery and a surgical sub-specialty and has re-certified in both several times. For 2 years, he has been blogging at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweeting as @SkepticScalpel. His blog has had more than 215,000 page views, and he has over 2,900 followers on Twitter.