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Fighting blood clots during C-sections

WASHINGTON -- New advice for pregnant women: If you're getting a Caesarean section, special inflating boots strapped on your legs may lower the risk of a blood clot.

Hospitals already use these compression devices for other major operations, such as hip replacements.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says it's time to make the step routine for most C-sections, which are nearly a third of U.S. births. The recommendations promise to raise awareness of what is a silent threat, not just for pregnant women but for thousands of others, too: Blood clots in veins that can masquerade as simple leg pain.

Called a DVT, for deep vein thrombosis, the clot usually starts in the leg or groin. If it moves up to the lungs, it's called a pulmonary embolism and can kill.

These clots make headlines when seemingly healthy people collapse after long airplane flights or other prolonged inactivity.

Risk of a DVT jumps during pregnancy and the six weeks after, partly because of slower blood flow from weight gain. A C-section increases that risk. The compression devices, which slip over each leg and regularly inflate and deflate, sort of like a massage, help blood flow more briskly.-- AP