Preterm birth of mother increases risk of pregnancy complications

September 24, 2012

Women who were born preterm are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy compared to those born at term, and the risk almost doubles for mothers born before 32 weeks, according to a study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Pregnancy complications include , gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia or eclampsia.

The findings are based on a study of 7405 women born preterm and 16 714 women born at term between 1976 and 1995 in the . Of the preterm women, 554 were less than 32 weeks at birth and 6851 were at 32-36 weeks' gestation.

"We found that the risk of pregnancy complication was significantly higher among women born preterm, independently of their own ," writes Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt, Sainte-Justine University Hospital and Research Center, University of Montréal, with coauthors. "When divided into categories of gestational age, the risk of having at least 1 pregnancy complication nearly doubled among women born before 32 weeks' gestation versus those born at term."

For the women born at less than 32 weeks, 19.9% had at least 1 pregnancy complication compared with 13.2% for those born between 32 and 36 weeks and 11.7% for those born at term.

Women who were born small for gestational age, whether preterm or term, were also at greater risk of complications during pregnancy, a finding reported in other studies. When the researchers controlled for education level, they still found that the risk of complications increased with decreasing . Chronic hypertension and type 2 diabetes were also more frequent among the women born preterm, even though the cohort studied was still relatively young (maximum age 32 years), which is also a new finding reported by this study. However, when the researchers controlled for these conditions (which are known to increase the risk of pregnancy complications), the risk of pregnancy complications remained significantly higher in women born preterm.

Over the past 30 years, significantly more babies born before 32 weeks' gestation have survived, which may mean that a larger population will be at risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and health issues related to these diseases.

The authors suggest that the higher rates of in mothers may be linked to underlying conditions related to their preterm births.

"The impact of the patients' preterm birth on obstetric care should be taken into account in the care of pregnant patients, as well as in the allocation of resources in the health care system," conclude the authors.

Explore further: Premature birth may increase risk of epilepsy later in life

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.120143

Related Stories

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.

Babies born just 2 or 3 weeks early at higher risk of poor health

March 2, 2012
A research paper which demonstrates that babies born even just a few weeks early have worse health outcomes than full term babies has been published today in the British Medical Journal.

Pregnancy-related complications predict CVD in middle age

February 17, 2012
If you develop pregnancy-related hypertensive disorders or diabetes, you may have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease later in life, according to research in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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.