One of the strongest known risk factors for spontaneous or unexpected preterm birth any birth that occurs before the 37th week of pregnancy, most often without a known cause is already having had one. For women in this group who would like to avoid this scenario in their second pregnancy, focusing on weight gain and dietary changes may not be the best strategy. A new study reported at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's annual meeting found no connection between weight gain and the risk of repeat preterm birth.
Study author David Hackney, M.D., a high-risk pregnancy expert in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Rochester Medical Center, says women who've had a prior preterm birth should talk with their doctor about the level of weight gain that is right for them, but, in general, should follow standard weight gain guidelines during their second pregnancy.
Hackney, who treats many women who've gone through early labor and delivery, wanted to zero in on weight gain because women have a certain degree of control over it. While there are some modifiable risk factors for preterm birth, including smoking, drinking and illicit drug use, understanding more about how women and their physicians can work together to reduce risk is a high priority, since all preterm babies are in danger of significant health problems at birth and beyond.
"Usually, weight gain and being overweight or obese is protective against spontaneous preterm birth. In fact, the risk of unexpected labor and delivery is 20 percent lower in obese than non-obese women," said Hackney. "We'd hoped to find that women were at greater risk of repeat preterm birth if they had a lower rate of weight gain in their second pregnancy, meaning patients could potentially decrease their risk by ensuring they gained an appropriate amount of weight. But, our research suggests you can't alter risk through changes in weight or diet."
|Contact: Emily Boynton|
University of Rochester Medical Center