Mother and Baby.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Erik de Castro)
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 and
researcher at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Center and
University of Montreal.
This is the first study to clearly show the impact of
preterm birth (i.e. before 37 weeks of gestation) itself 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,
They examined the data from all women born preterm between 1976 and
1995 and who had delivered at least one infant between 1987 and 2008. “We took
all women born preterm and selected twice as many 'at-term' women as
representative controls for this study,” Nuyt explained.
There were 7,405 women
in the born preterm group during the study period. “The findings show that just
over one in ten pregnancies involves complications in mothers who were carried
to full term. However, this figure rises to one in five for women who were born
before 32 weeks of gestation.”
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 and were also able to correct
their statistics to take into account other 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 was
As the rate of survival of preterm babies has increased
significantly over the past 30 years, it is important for researchers to improve
the understanding of the health risks for this increasingly large percentage of
“Seven per cent of young adults in Quebec were born
prematurely,” Nuyt said. “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.”This article was first published at www.newswise.com