Risk of Early Death Related to Pregnancy Complications: New Study


A new study suggests that problems during pregnancy, including gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, may be associated with an increased risk of death even decades after giving birth.

According to the study, which was published on Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, women who had significant pregnancy-related problems were more likely to die young and to die before the age of forty-five.

Dr Casey Crump, Professor in department of family medicine and community health, UTHealth Houston, said “Adverse pregnancy outcomes may lead to small physiologic changes that are initially hard to detect, such as inflammation or other abnormalities in small blood vessels. These changes may persist or progress after pregnancy, eventually leading to other health problems that may take years or even decades to appear.”

“Pregnancy provides a key opportunity to identify high-risk women and start interventions earlier in life, before other health problems develop,” Crump said. “Women who experience adverse pregnancy outcomes need close follow-up with their primary care doctor, starting soon after delivery, for regular preventive care to help reduce these risks and protect their long-term health.”

According to the researchers’ findings, about thirty percent of women during their reproductive years have an unfavorable pregnancy outcome.

The data on over 2 million women who gave birth in Sweden between 1973 and 2015 was examined by researchers from Lund University in Malmö, Sweden, and The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

“This study was conducted in Sweden because its universal health care system collects nationwide data that enabled several decades of follow-up,” Crump said in the email. He added that the study “will eventually need to be replicated in other populations, including the US where minority groups may potentially have even higher risks than we found in Sweden.”

The number of women in the study who encountered any of the following five significant pregnancy issues was closely examined by the researchers: gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, low birth weight babies, preeclampsia, and other conditions linked to elevated blood pressure. They also looked at the women’s postpartum survival rates. More than 88,000 women had died, according to the data, and each of the five pregnancy problems was linked to an increased risk of death in later life on its own.

The new research “sheds light on an evolving area – the association of pregnancy complications with long term health risks,” according to NYU Langone Health chief of obstetrics and vice chair for clinical affairs Dr. Ashley Roman, who was not involved in the study.

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