Pregnancy Complications Can Increase Risk Of Preterm Births in Later Pregnancies: Study

Women who experienced complications during pregnancy may face a higher risk of having a preterm birth when they become pregnant in the future, leading to a risk of serious side effects for the mother and future children, according to the findings of a recent study.

In findings published late last month in the medical journal The BMJ, researchers from the University of Bergen in Norway indicating that pregnant women who experience pre-eclampsia, still-birth or other complications, may face a greater risk of problems during a later pregnancy, even if the earlier child was delivered at full-term.

Researchers evaluated data on more than 300,000 women who gave birth between 1999 to 2015, analyzing the outcomes of first and second pregnancies from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway.

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According to their findings, women with any of five complications, including pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, stillbirth, neonatal death, and small gestational age, showed an increased risk of preterm delivery in the next pregnancy.

Any delivery after 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered a full-term birth, which is considered lower risk because they allow the infant to develop fully. Preterm births, which occur before 37 weeks, are linked to negative health side effects in the infant, including cerebral palsy, delayed development, as well as hearing and vision problems.

The risk of preterm birth in the second pregnancy increased only 3% if a woman experienced no complications in the first pregnancy. However, if a woman experienced pre-eclampsia in the first pregnancy the risk of preterm birth increased by 6% and it increased by 7% if she suffered placental abruption, when the placenta tears from the uterus.

Similarly, the risk increased by 10% if she suffered a neonatal death of the infant before birth, 13% if the woman had a stillbirth in the first pregnancy, and 7% if the child was born small for their gestational age.

Compared to women who suffered no complications during the first pregnancy, the risk of preterm birth in the second pregnancy was doubled if the mother suffered any complications in the first pregnancy.

That risk increased to 3.5 times if the mother suffered two or more complications.

Researchers also noted complications and preterm delivery in the first pregnancy were also an indicator that a woman would likely experience complications in the second pregnancy as well.

“Term complications seem to share important underlying causes with preterm delivery that persist from pregnancy to pregnancy, perhaps related to a mother’s predisposition to disorders of placental function,” the researchers concluded.


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