Marijuana use more than doubles risk of premature birth

July 17, 2012

A large international study led by University of Adelaide researchers has found that women who use marijuana can more than double the risk of giving birth to a baby prematurely.

Preterm or - at least three weeks before a baby's due date - can result in serious and life-threatening health problems for the baby, and an increased risk of health problems in later life, such as heart disease and diabetes.

A study of more than 3000 pregnant women in Adelaide, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand has detailed the most common risk factors for preterm birth. The results have been published online today in the journal .

The research team, led by Professor Gus Dekker from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute and the Lyell McEwin Hospital, found that the greatest risks for spontaneous preterm birth included:

  • Strong family history of babies (almost six times the risk);
  • Use of marijuana prior to pregnancy (more than double the risk);
  • Having a mother with a history of pre-eclampsia (more than double the risk);
  • Having a history of vaginal bleeds (more than double the risk);
  • Having a mother with diabetes type 1 or 2 (more than double the risk).
The team also found that the greatest risk factors involved in the preterm rupture of membranes leading to birth included:
  • Mild hypertension not requiring treatment (almost 10 times the risk);
  • Family history of recurrent (eight times the risk);
  • Receiving some forms of hormonal (almost four times the risk);
  • Having a of less than 20 (more than double the risk).
"Our study has found that the risk factors for both forms of preterm birth vary greatly, with a wide variety of health conditions and histories impacting on preterm birth," says Professor Dekker, who is the lead author of the study.

"Better understanding the risk factors involved in preterm birth moves us another step forward in potentially developing a test - genetic or otherwise - that will help us to predict with greater accuracy the risk of preterm birth. Our ultimate aim is to safeguard the lives of babies and their health in the longer term," he says.

Explore further: Study finds residence in US a risk factor for preterm birth

Related Stories

Study finds residence in US a risk factor for preterm birth

February 9, 2012
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, in Dallas, Texas, researchers will report findings that indicate that duration of stay in the United States ...

Antidepressants -- not depression -- increase risk of preterm birth, study shows

May 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Women who are depressed during pregnancy are not at higher risk of giving birth prematurely than non-depressed women — but those who take antidepressants during pregnancy seem to be, a new study ...

To avoid early labor and delivery, weight and diet changes not the answer

February 10, 2012
One of the strongest known risk factors for spontaneous or unexpected preterm birth – any birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy, most often without a known cause – is already having had one. For women ...

Premature birth may increase risk of epilepsy later in life

October 3, 2011
Being born prematurely may increase your risk of developing epilepsy as an adult, according to a new study published in the October 4, 2011, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Recommended for you

Transplant of ovarian tissue frozen years ago holds hope of life

November 23, 2017
Ovarian tissue that was frozen a decade ago was implanted last week in a 25-year-old cancer survivor who hopes that reviving the tissue from suspended animation will allow her to start a family.

Sleeping position linked to the risk of stillbirth

November 20, 2017
Pregnant women who go to sleep on their back during the later stages of pregnancy face an increased likelihood of suffering a stillbirth, according to new research.

Study in mice finds dietary levels of genistein may adversely affect female fertility

November 14, 2017
Exposure to the phytoestrogen genistein prior to conception may adversely affect female fertility and pregnancy outcomes, depending on the dosage and duration of exposure, a new study in mice suggests.

IUDs may have a surprising benefit: Protection against cervical cancer

November 7, 2017
Considered a safe and highly effective contraception method, intrauterine devices (IUDs) may also be quietly offering protection against the third-most common cancer in women worldwide. A new study from the Keck School of ...

Increasing rates of chronic conditions putting more moms, babies at risk

November 7, 2017
Pregnant women today are more likely to have chronic conditions that could cause life-threatening complications than at any other time in the past decade - particularly poor women and those living in rural communities, a ...

First time mums with an epidural who lie down more likely to have a normal birth

October 18, 2017
Adopting a lying down position rather than being upright in the later stages of labour for first-time mothers who have had a low dose epidural leads to a higher chance of them delivering their baby without any medical intervention, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.