Pregnancy Complications Higher in Women Born Preterm
Women who were born premature are more likely to have pregnancy complications than women who weren't
According to data analyzed by a team lead by Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt, a neonatal specialist*, this is the first study to clearly show the impact of preterm birth (i.e. before 37 weeks of gestation) on pregnancy risks.
"We knew that to be born with a low birth weight could be associated with increased risk of pregnancy complications, but with this study we isolated the "born preterm factor" and show that being born premature has a major impact on pregnancy complications," Nuyt said.
The results of Nuyt's studies were published online by the Canadian Medical Association Journal on September 24, 2012.
The team examined the data from all women born preterm between 1976 and 1995 and who delivered at least one infant between 1987 and 2008. There were 7,405 women in the born preterm group during the study period.
"We took all pregnant women born preterm
and selected twice as many "at-term" pregnant women
as representative controls for this study.
The findings show that just over one in ten pregnancies
involves complications in pregnant women
who were carried to full term.
However, this figure rises to one in five for pregnant
women who themselves were born
before 32 weeks of gestation."
Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt
The researchers were able to undertake their study with high quality data and precise information as all births, with weight and gestational age, and all hospital diagnosis and interventions that take place in Quebec are recorded in universal databases that can be used to generate health statistics.
The researchers were able to refine their query to include women who were born between 24 and 42 weeks gestation. They also corrected their statistics to take into account health conditions and social factors that may influence pregnancy-related complications.
Scientists have known for some time that women whose weight was low at birth have a higher risk of health issues during pregnancy, including gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia. However, it was unclear whether being born preterm alone had an impact.
This research establishes that independently
of weight at birth,
(i.e. whether too small or normal for gestational age),
baby girls born preterm show a significant increase
in their risk of developing pregnancy complications,
and that the risk increases the more premature
the woman herself was born.
The rate of survival of preterm babies has increased significantly over the past 30 years, it is important for researchers to understand the health risks for this increasingly large percentage of the population.
Nuyt: "Seven per cent of young adults in Quebec were born prematurely. The impact of preterm births on obstetric care should be taken into account by professionals providing care directly to patients and by managers allocating resources within the health care system."
* Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt is also a researcher at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Center and University of Montreal.
This work was funded by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) operating grant (no. MCH-97584). The researchers received funding from the Fonds de recherche du Québec Santé, the CIHR, and the Fonds de recherche du Québec Société et culture. Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital and the University of Montreal are known officially as Centre hospitalier universitaire Sainte-Justine and Université de Montréal, respectively.
Original article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-09/uom-pcu092112.php