Just had a baby and already itching to become pregnant again? You may want to put your conception plans on hold, at least for a few months. According to new research from Israel published in the December 2009 issue of Contraception, waiting at least 6 to 11 months between pregnancies may be better for your baby's health.
In the study of nearly 500,000 live births, researchers found that babies born as a result of closely spaced pregnancies were 23 percent more likely to be born preterm, 14 percent more likely to have a birth defect, 15 percent more likely to be considered small for gestational age—and had a 64 percent increased chance of early infant death—compared to babies born to moms who had waited six months to a year (or longer) between pregnancies.
Why wait? Researchers speculate that a combination of factors—depletion of critical nutrient stores during the initial pregnancy, normal postpartum hormonal imbalances, and the physical stress associated with breastfeeding and caring for an infant—may make it much more difficult for a woman's body to support a healthy pregnancy when it comes so soon after giving birth.
Experts still aren't sure what the ideal amount of time between pregnancies should be. "But waiting more than six months is a relatively reasonable thing to do," said Dr. Steven Allen, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, Texas, commenting on this study to ScoutNews.