The average risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE) in long haul travellers is approximately 2.8 per 1000 travellers, which is increased in the presence of other VTE risk factors. In pregnant long-haul travellers, little is known in terms of the absolute risk of VTE in these women and, therefore, there is limited consensus on appropriate thromboprophylaxis in this setting.
This review will provide guidance to allow practitioners to safely minimize the risk of travel-related VTE in pregnant women. The suggestions provided are based on limited data, extrapolated risk estimates of VTE in pregnant travellers and recommendations from published guidelines.
We found that the absolute VTE risk per flight appears to be <1% for the average pregnant or postpartum traveller. In pregnant travellers with a prior history of VTE, a potent thrombophilia or strong antepartum risk factors (e.g. combination of obesity and immobility), the risk of VTE with travel appears to be >1%. Postpartum, the risk of VTE with travel may be >1% for women with thrombophilias (particularly in those with a family history) and other transient risk factors and in women with a prior VTE.
Based on our findings, we recommend simple measures be taken by all pregnant travellers, such as frequent ambulation, hydration and calf exercises. In those at an intermediate risk, we suggest a consideration of 20–30 mmHg compression stockings. In the highest risk group, we suggest careful consideration for low-molecular-weight heparin thromboprophylaxis. If there are specific concerns, we advise consultation with a thrombosis expert at the nearest local centre.