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Complications during a first pregnancy could increase the risk for future preterm birth

Researchers say expecting mothers should be aware of the risks

Photo (c) Sohel_Parvez_Haque - Getty Images
While researchers have found how consumers’ diets can affect pregnancy outcomes, a new study explored how women’s pregnancy history can potentially lead to preterm births. 

According to researchers, women who experience complications during their first pregnancy, but still deliver at full term, could be at an increased risk of delivering early with subsequent pregnancies. 

Identifying the risks

To understand the relationship with first pregnancy complications and future preterm births, the researchers analyzed results from the Norway Medical Birth Registry. This gave the researchers access to data from first and second pregnancies and deliveries for over 302,000 women. 

They explained that when first pregnancies deliver at full term, there is only a three percent risk of a preterm birth with the second child. However, risks for preterm birth after events like stillbirth, pre-eclampsia, small birth weight and height, neonatal death, and placental abruption in a first pregnancy greatly affected the outcome of other pregnancies that followed.

Women who experienced any one of the complications were twice as likely to deliver early with their second child. That risk tripled when women experienced multiple complications with their first pregnancies. 

The researchers hope that their work can be beneficial in getting women the proper care and resources when these complications arise. 

According to the researchers, these findings “imply an increased risk not only of recurrence of the same outcome, but also of preterm birth in a subsequent pregnancy. These findings might inform antenatal clinical care by helping to identify women at increased risk of preterm delivery.” 

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