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A team lead by Dr. Anne Monique Nuyt, a neonatal specialist and researcher at the Sainte-Justine Mother and Child University Hospital Center and University of Montreal, reported in the September 2012 Canadian Medical Association Journal that women who were born prematurely are more likely to have pregnancy complications than women who weren't. Their study is the first to clearly show the impact of preterm birth (i.e., before 37 weeks of gestation) itself on pregnancy risks. They examined the data from all women born preterm between 1976 and 1995 and who had delivered at least one infant between 1987 and 2008.
"We took all women born preterm and selected twice as many 'at-term' women as representative controls for this study," Nuyt explained. There were 7,405 women in the born preterm group during the study period. "The findings show that just over one in ten pregnancies involves complications in mothers who were carried to full term. However, this figure rises to one in five for women who were born before 32 weeks of gestation."
As the rate of survival of preterm babies has increased significantly over the past 30 years, it is important for researchers to improve the understanding of the health risks for this increasingly large percentage of the population. This study indicates that as the number of surviving preemies increases, so does the number of complicated pregnancies within the health care system."
More details are available in Science News.