Preemies' Later Pregnancies Higher Risk

Women born premature are more likely to have pregnancy complications

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Researchers already knew that women born underweight are at a higher risk for various health issues. But what about preemies who aren't underweight?

A recent study has found that being born early makes pregnancy complications later on more likely, regardless of birth weight.

Women who were born underweight and early were more likely to have at least one complication during pregnancy compared to women born at full term and at an appropriate weight.

"Attend all your prenatal appointments."

The study, led by Ariane Boivin, PhD, aimed to find out about the link between being born a preemie and having pregnancy complications later on.

The study involved 7,405 women who were born early: 554 were born before the 32nd week of pregnancy, and 6,851 were born between 32 and 36 weeks.

These women were compared to 16,714 women who were born at full term (at least 38 weeks of pregnancy) between 1976 and 1995.

The researchers compared the rate of gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia in the women during pregnancy.

They found that at least one pregnancy complication occurred for 20 percent of the women born before 32 weeks, 13 percent of the women born between 32 and 36 weeks and 12 percent of the women born at full term.

Even when the researchers controlled for the women's birth weights in their calculations, however, women who had been preemies born before the 32nd week of pregnancy were still about twice as likely to have a pregnancy complication.

Women born between the 32nd and 36th weeks of pregnancy also had a higher risk of pregnancy complications, but it was only a slight increase of risk.

The researchers therefore concluded that being a preemie — even if the women were not small for their size when born — still made it more likely that they would have complications during their pregnancies later in life.

The study was published September 24 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The research was funded by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

One author reported receiving fees for being a consultant from the International Partnership for Microbicides. No other conflicts of interest were noted.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 22, 2012
Last Updated:
September 24, 2012