Past reports have also linked having a short interpregnancy interval
with a greater risk of premature birth.
The new study “brings up the importance of adequate birth spacing as
a potential modifiable way that women, especially high-risk women,
can decrease their chance of having a preterm baby,” Emily DeFranco
told Reuters Health.
She worked on the study at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical
Center in Ohio.
“Women who are at the highest risk for preterm birth are those who
have had a previous premature birth so (for those women it is)
especially important to try to optimize their pregnancy timing,”
The findings suggest a short interpregnancy interval is also linked
to the risk of a baby being born a week or two early, though not
technically premature. These early term births at 37 and 38 weeks of
gestation (full term is 39 to 40 weeks) can have a negative impact
on a newborn’s health, say the authors.
For their study, DeFranco and her colleagues analyzed information
from Ohio birth records from 2006 to 2011. They were able to find
the interpregnancy interval for about 450,000 babies born to mothers
who had given birth previously.
About 11% of the births occurred after an interpregnancy interval of
12 to 18 months and about 2% followed an interpregnancy interval of
less than 12 months.
The researchers found that 53% of women with interpregnancy
intervals of less than 12 months gave birth before the 39th week of
pregnancy, compared with about 38% of women who had normal
interpregnancy intervals of at least 18 months.
Twenty percent of women with the shortest interpregnancy intervals
delivered prematurely - before 37 weeks - compared to 10% of women
who waited 12 to 18 months between pregnancies and about 8%of women
with a normal interpregnancy interval.
African American mothers were more likely to have short
interpregnancy intervals. They were also more likely to have
premature births, even when their pregnancies were at least 18
months apart, according to findings published June 4 online in BJOG:
An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
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DeFranco said researchers aren’t entirely certain why a shorter time
between pregnancies might increase the risk of earlier birth, but
that it probably has to do with nutritional depletion, which has
been associated with a variety of pregnancy complications.
It’s important for women to use birth control and plan for adequate
time between pregnancies, she said.
“I do love this paper and I think that it shows that we need to
really pay attention to this interpregnancy interval and be aware of
trying to help our patients figure out exactly what their plans
are,” Dr. Mary Rosser told Reuters Health in an email. Rosser, an
obstetrician and gynecologist at Montefiore Medical Center in New
York, was not involved in the new study.
“I really feel like there needs to be a ‘birth plan’ where patients
are involved in their reproductive health so that they choose a
birth control method - and maybe this is discussed during the
pregnancy, not with the post-partum visit when it’s almost too
late,” she said.
Rosser said there are additional reasons to wait at least 18 months
between pregnancies. Waiting could help mothers manage their weight
and stay healthy and also benefit their earlier child’s health and
“In the gynecology world we really would like to prolong that
interpregnancy interval so that mom has a chance to bond with that
child,” she said. “We're also trying to stress the importance of
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1qdtlDG BJOG 2014.
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