Friday, June 6th, 2014
Women who have babies in quick succession–with 18 months or less between pregnancies–may be at higher risk of experiencing preterm labor with their second babies, according to new research published in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. ScienceDaily.com has more:
The US study, using birth records from the Ohio Department of Health, looked at 454,716 live births from women with two or more pregnancies over a six year period. The researchers looked at the influence of inadequate birth spacing on the duration of the subsequent pregnancy.
The study defined short interpregnancy interval (IPI) as time from the immediate preceding birth to subsequent conception of the next pregnancy. Researchers categorized the women with short IPIs into two groups, IPI less than 12 months and IPI 12-18 months, comparing them to women who were considered to have an optimal IPI of 18 months or more.
Results showed that mothers with shorter IPIs were more likely to give birth prior to 39 weeks gestation when compared to women with optimal birth spacing. Following a short IPI of less than 12 months, 53.3% of women had delivered before 39 weeks, compared to 37.5% of women with an optimal IPI. Birth after the estimated due date (more than 40 weeks) occurred less often in women with short IPI of less than 12 months, 16.9% compared to 23.1% for a normal IPI.
Furthermore the rate of preterm birth before 37 weeks gestation was higher in women who conceived after a short IPI of less than 12 months. They were more than twice as likely to give birth before 37 weeks compared to pregnancies following an optimal IPI (20.1% vs. 7.7% respectively).
The study also looked at racial groups. Figures showed that black mothers more frequently had shorter IPIs compared to non-black mothers (less than 12 months, 3.3% vs. 1.9% and 12-18 months, 13.2% vs. 10.1%).
Moreover, the rate of preterm birth was also higher in black mothers with short IPI of less than 12 months, 26.4% compared to 8.7% for non-black mothers.
While women who conceived following an optimal IPI (18 months or more) had the lowest rates of preterm birth, black women still showed a higher rate of overall preterm births (11.3%) compared to non-black mothers (6.8%), suggesting that maternal ethnicity was also a significant predictor of preterm birth despite optimal birth spacing.
The study’s authors recommended women try for an “optimal” birth spacing of 18 months or longer between pregnancies.
Image: Pregnant woman holding a baby, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Women who eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are fifteen percent less likely to deliver their babies prematurely, according to a new study published by Swedish researchers.
‘Pregnant women have many reasons to choose a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and some types of fish, but this is the first time we can statistically link healthy eating habits to reduced risk of preterm delivery,’ says Linda Englund-Ögge, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Preterm delivery, defined as spontaneous or induced delivery before the end of gestational week 37, can be associated with acute and long-term complications and is a major problem in modern maternity care. Measures to prevent preterm delivery are therefore of high priority.
When asked whether these findings should lead to stricter dietary standards or guidelines for pregnant women, Englund-Ögge said, “No, and it is not harmful to occasionally eat something unhealthy. But our study shows that the dietary recommendations given to pregnant women are important.”
She continued, “Dietary studies can be very complex. Any given food item may contain a wide range of substances and is usually consumed together with other foods. This makes it difficult to find out its exact effects of one single food. We show that there is a statistically established link between a healthy diet and reduced risk of preterm delivery, but our study wasn’t designed to identify any underlying mechanisms.”
Image: Pregnant woman eating, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
New research is casting new light on the efficacy of progesterone injections or suppositories in preventing early labor. The New York Times reports:
Now a new randomized double-blinded trial, published online in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, reports that progesterone in its injected form does not work for a much larger risk group: the 10 percent of women with a cervix shorter than 30 millimeters. These women have about the same risk of having a preterm birth — around 25 percent — as those who have already had one.
“The study emphasizes that because progesterone works for one group at risk for preterm birth doesn’t mean that it can automatically be extended to others,” said the lead author of the study, Dr. William A. Grobman, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern.
Researchers randomly assigned 657 women to a weekly injection of a form of progesterone or to a placebo shot. All were pregnant for the first time with a single baby, and each had a cervical length of less than 30 millimeters at 16 to 22 weeks’ gestation. The women were followed through discharge from the hospital.
The scientists were unable to find any significant differences in birth outcomes between the two groups. Of those who took the progesterone, 25.1 percent delivered prematurely (at less than 37 weeks) and so did 24.2 percent of those on the placebo.
Image: Pregnant belly, via Shutterstock
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