Researchers in Greece followed more than 2000 low-risk, first-time pregnant women and found that those who had successfully used a fertility treatment were more than twice as likely to deliver premature babies compared to women who had conceived naturally.
By Ioannis Tsakiridis
Prematurity is one of the most devastating complications that can arise during pregnancy as it is a major cause of death and handicap. It also imposes a heavy economic burden on health systems in high-income countries. Many demographic, biophysical and lifestyle factors that can predispose some women to experience a premature birth have already been identified, including a previous history of preterm birth, maternal chronic disease and twin pregnancies. Furthermore, some complications of pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or hypertension, also increase the likelihood of preterm birth.
However, many women in their first pregnancy, with none of these risk factors, will also deliver prematurely. The aim of a recent study published in the Journal of Perinatal Medicine, was to look at this low-risk group of women and try to identify risk factors for preterm birth in this group. The researchers conducted a study involving more than 2000 women in their first pregnancy, and they excluded those who were expecting twins, had a chronic disease, or had experienced complications during their current pregnancy. In the end, about 1 in 20 (5%) of these women delivered prematurely.
Among the possible risk factors, contrary to what was expected, advanced maternal age (more than 35 years), obesity and smoking were not associated with a higher risk of preterm birth. The most important factor that increased the risk of prematurity was the use of assisted reproductive techniques, such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF).
Other researchers have previously reported this association between fertility treatment and preterm birth. However, the originality of the present study was that it was conducted in a selected, low-risk population. The authors hope that this finding may induce more studies into the multiple aspects of fertility treatment, as well as the characteristics of women who seek this treatment, that may be implicated in the observed increase in the risk of preterm birth.
To find out more, read the original article here:
Themistoklis Dagklis, Ioannis Tsakiridis, Apostolos Mamopoulos, Theodore Dardavessis and Apostolos Athanasiadis: Modifiable risk factors for spontaneous preterm birth in nulliparous women: a prospective study, 19.12.2019.