If you're pregnant, right now you're probably pretty focused on your baby's upcoming birth. But what about your own? According to a new study on preterm birth, women who were themselves born early could be more likely to develop certain problems during pregnancy.
Conducted by researchers in Canada, the study looked at data gathered on women born between 1976 and 1995 who delivered at least one baby between 1987 and 2008. The study included 7,405 women who had been born before 32 weeks of pregnancy and 16,714 women born after 32 weeks of pregnancy.
After crunching the numbers, researchers found that approximately 20 percent of women born preterm had at least one complication, such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure, during their own pregnancies. In contrast, only 13.2 percent of women born between 32 and 36 weeks of pregnancy, and 11.7 percent of women who were born at full-term (at least 37 weeks), experienced a complication during their pregnancy.
Women who were born small for gestational age, whether pre- or full term, were also at greater risk of complications during pregnancy, a finding reported in other studies.
On the one hand, researchers hope women use information from their own births to make the best decisions possible to stay healthy during pregnancy. These statistics may also help to explain why moms-to-be who don't appear to have any risk factors go on to develop gestational diabetes, hypertension, and other pregnancy problems.
But on the other hand are moms like Megan Brown, 33, of Burlington, Vermont, who was born at 29 weeks when her mom developed preeclampsia, but went on to have "two textbook pregnancies" of her own.
"These are depressing statistics, but they also motivate me," says Brown. "I had talked to my mom a lot about the kinds of problems she went through to have me. You can't control everything 100 percent, but you can take the very best care of yourself possible. And actually, in my case, my baby ended up being born late at 41 weeks."
"My mom was in shock!" she adds. "I was, too."