Women Born Preterm May Face Pregnancy Risks

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Women who were born preterm may be more likely to have pregnancy complications than other women, a new study suggests.

The risk is higher for those born before 32 weeks' gestation, the study found.

Canadian researchers examined data from more than 7,000 women born preterm (earlier than 37 weeks' gestation) and more than 16,000 born at term between 1976 and 1995 in the province of Quebec.

At least one pregnancy complication occurred in nearly 12 percent of women born at term, slightly more than 13 percent of women born between 32 and 36 weeks, and nearly 20 percent of those born at less than 32 weeks.

Pregnancy complications included gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and preeclampsia or eclampsia.

The researchers also found that women who were born small for gestational age, whether preterm or term, also had an increased risk for pregnancy complications, a finding reported in previous studies.

The new study, published Sept. 24 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association, also found that chronic high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes were more common among women born preterm than among those born at term. Both conditions increase the risk of pregnancy complications.

Higher rates of pregnancy complications in women born preterm may be linked to underlying conditions related to the preterm births, the researchers suggested.

"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," said Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt of Sainte-Justine University Hospital and Research Center, University of Montreal, and colleagues in a journal news release.

The findings suggest that as increasing numbers of very preterm babies survive, a larger population may be at risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes and other related health issues, the researchers said.

The study found a link between pre-term birth and pregnancy complications; it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Canadian Medical Association Journal, news release, Sept. 24, 2012