Time between pregnancies not linked to stillbirth risk

Tuesday, 05 March, 2019

Time between pregnancies not linked to stillbirth risk

Many women who’ve experienced a stillbirth worry about having a repeat experience the next time they fall pregnant, and seek advice on how long they should wait between pregnancies.

They now have an answer. A new study has found that falling pregnant within a year, or even waiting longer, will not increase the risk of adverse birth outcomes.

The research, led by Curtin University and published in The Lancet journal, examined birth records from Finland, Norway and Australia between 1980 and 2016. The study found that of 14,452 births that occurred after a stillbirth, 63% of women had conceived within 12 months with no associated increased risk of adverse birth outcomes in the subsequent pregnancy.

Lead author Dr Annette Regan, from the School of Public Health at Curtin University, said the study confirmed that conceiving another child within 12 months of experiencing stillbirth was not associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

“The research may have important implications for families who have experienced a stillbirth,” she said. “Our findings should provide reassurance to women who wish to become pregnant or unexpectedly become pregnant shortly after a stillbirth.”

Senior author Dr Gavin Pereira, also from Curtin’s School of Public Health, said previous research suggested that women needed sufficient time to recover from a previous pregnancy to reduce the risk of foetal growth restriction and preterm birth.

“The World Health Organization recommends waiting at least two years following live birth and at least six months following spontaneous or induced abortion to reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes in the following pregnancy, but there is no recommendation for the waiting time following a stillbirth,” she said.

The research was co-authored by researchers from the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine at Curtin University, Telethon Kids Institute, University of Sydney, National Institute for Health and Welfare in Finland, Karolinska Institute in Sweden, University of Bristol and Bristol Medical School in the UK, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Norway.

The research is titled, ‘Interpregnancy interval following a previous stillbirth and birth outcomes.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Halfpoint

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