Premature birth associated with increased risk of heart disease in mothers
A study involving researchers from our University has found the risk of death in later life due to coronary heart disease doubles in women who give birth prematurely.
Researchers from Keele University’s Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, together with colleagues at the University Hospital of North Midlands Trust (UHNM), the University of Arizona, and the University of Leicester, analysed 21 studies and over five million women, with the findings published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Premature birth (delivery before 37 gestational weeks) affects 10% of all pregnancies, and is linked to poor health in premature babies. However, the study found that there are also long-term implications for the mother's health.
The study shows women who give birth before 37 weeks are 1.4 - 1.6 times more likely to experience cardiovascular disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease than mothers who give birth at full term (39 weeks), and also have double the risk of death caused by coronary heart disease.
The study promotes the importance of cardiovascular risk assessments in women who give birth prematurely, in order to identify high-risk individuals. These individuals can be targeted to reduce the risk of future cardiovascular events by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and behavioural changes, and prescribing drug therapies which will help reduce their risks.