Pregnancy Complications, the Next Generation

Women who were born prematurely have a significantly higher risk of complications during their own pregnancies, a new study has found.

Researchers in Quebec compared the pregnancies of 7,405 women who had been born before 37 weeks of gestation with those of 16,714 women born at term.

The study, published online last week in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, looked at three common complications of pregnancy: gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension and preeclampsia. (Preeclampsia results in high blood pressure, swelling and protein in the urine.)

The percentage of women with at least one complication rose as their own gestational age at birth decreased. Compared with women born at full term, those born at 32 to 36 weeks of gestation were 14 percent more likely, and those born before 32 weeks almost twice as likely, to suffer one or more of the complications. The difference persisted even after controlling for the mother’s age and health, the baby’s size for gestational age, and other factors.

Advice for a woman born prematurely planning to have a baby? “It’s important not to be alarmist,” said the senior author, Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Montreal. “Go ahead and start your family. The conditions we found are already tested for in all prenatal care, but this study might lead to some tightened follow-up .”

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