Premature Delivery Tied to Heart Risks in MotherFebruary 19, 2015
Premature delivery is tied to increased heart risks in the mother, a review of studies has found.
Pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia, pregnancy-induced hypertension and gestational diabetes are recognized risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the mother. But this analysis, published in The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, found that preterm delivery itself also increases the risk.
Researchers reviewed 10 large pregnancy studies, with sample sizes ranging from 3,706 to 923,686 women and follow-up periods ranging from 12 to 35 years. All compared women who had premature babies spontaneously — that is, a birth before 37 weeks’ gestation that was not induced for medical reasons — to women who gave birth to full-term babies. All studies either excluded cases of pre-eclampsia and intrauterine growth restriction, or adjusted for hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
Women with a history of preterm delivery had double the risk for ischemic heart disease, stroke or other cardiovascular disease compared with those without such a history, and the association was independent of other risks. The reasons remain unclear.
“I don’t want to scare women who have a premature baby,” said the lead author, Dr. Karst Y. Heida, a gynecology resident at the University Medical Center Utrecht. “But it’s important that we are aware of women who are at increased risk. We’re not saying that if you have a premature baby it means you’re going to have a cardiac event.”