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

Hope for couples suffering IVF miscarriage

September 20, 2017
Women who miscarry during their first full round of IVF are more likely to have a baby after further treatment than women who don't get pregnant at all.

Does mother's mental health affect pregnancy?

September 13, 2017
(HealthDay)—Three common mental health disorders—depression, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder—pose no serious threat to pregnant women or the health of their babies, a new study finds.

Preeclampsia may boost heart disease risk by altering blood vessels

September 12, 2017
Preeclampsia may permanently change the blood vessels of women who experience the condition during pregnancy, boosting their lifelong risk for cardiovascular disease, according to Penn State researchers.

Discovery of genes linked to preterm birth in landmark study

September 6, 2017
A massive DNA analysis of pregnant women has identified six gene regions that influence the length of pregnancy and the timing of birth. The findings, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, may lead to new ...

Older wombs linked to complications in pregnant mice

September 5, 2017
Deciding to start a family later in life could be about more than just the age of your eggs. A new study in mice suggests the age of a mother's womb may also have a part to play. This work, led by Dr Myriam Hemberger at the ...

Study suggests simple way to predict preterm births

September 4, 2017
Up to 18 percent of babies born worldwide arrive before they are full-term, defined as 37 weeks of gestation. About 1 million of those babies do not survive, and those who do can face developmental problems such as impaired ...

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.