It’s a well-known fact that being born prematurely often comes with its own set of health risks, but who could have guessed that being born prematurely could end up affecting the pregnancy of a woman decades later? That’s what researchers from the Sainte-Justine University Hospital and Research, University of Montreal found in a recent study.
“We found that the risk of pregnancy complication was significantly higher among women born preterm, independently of their own fetal growth,” said Dr. Anne Monique, lead author on the study. “When divided into categories of gestational age, the risk of having at least one pregnancy complication nearly doubled among women born before 32 weeks gestation versus those born at term.”
Pregnancy complications included gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and eclampsia. According to the researchers, 19.9% of the women born before 32 weeks gestation had at least one of these pregnancy complications. This was compared to 13.2% for women born between 32 and 36 weeks gestation and just 11.7% for those born at term. This remained true even after researchers accounted for other factors such as education level.
These findings are based on the information on 7,405 women born preterm and 16,714 women born at term between the years of 1976 and 1995 from Quebec. Of the women born prematurely, 554 were born before 32 weeks gestation; the remaining 6,851 were born after 32 weeks gestation, but before term. All of the women in the study were under the age of 32.
Researchers say that this increased risk should be taken into account when delivering prenatal care to an expectant mother. This will become increasingly important over the next several decades since modern medicine has continuously increased the number of live, premature births over the last few decades.
“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,” the authors concluded in the study, which was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Independent of this study, researchers also found that women born prematurely were at a higher risk for developing chronic hypertension and type 2 diabetes.
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