These 5 Pregnancy Complications Raise the Risk of Early Death

Women who experience complications during pregnancy and labor have a higher chance of early death, a new study has found.

Women with adverse pregnancy outcomes face higher long-term mortality risks, according to new research — risks that persist more than 40 years after the pregnancy.

The new findings, published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Monday, are based on a national cohort study of more than 2 million women in Sweden.

The study found that women who experienced one of five major adverse pregnancy outcomes, which include preterm delivery, small for gestational age, preeclampsia, other hypertensive disorders, and gestational diabetes had increased mortality risks. The findings were not explained by shared familial factors.

Nearly 30% of all women experience at least one of these complications during pregnancy, the researchers said.

“Women with adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm delivery or preeclampsia, have higher future risks of cardiometabolic disorders; however, little is known about their long-term mortality risks,” the authors wrote in the study. “A better understanding of such risks is needed to facilitate early identification of high-risk women and preventive actions.”

Researchers used the Swedish Medical Birth Register, which contains prenatal and birth information for nearly all deliveries in Sweden since 1973, to identify women who had a singleton delivery (meaning only one baby rather than multiples) from 1973 to 2015. A total of 2,195,667 women with information for pregnancy duration and infant birth weight were included in the study.

Of the total participants, 88,055 women died. All five adverse pregnancy outcomes were independently associated with increased mortality up to 46 years later.

Specifically, the researchers found that gestational diabetes was linked with a 52% higher risk of death, preterm delivery was associated with a 41% higher risk, low birth weight was associated with a 30% higher risk, preeclampsia was associated with a 13% increased risk, and other hypertensive disorders were linked with a 27% increased risk.

Women who experienced multiple adverse pregnancy outcomes had further increases in risk, the authors said.

The researchers found that complications were associated with increased mortality from multiple causes of death, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory disorders, and cancer.

“All major adverse pregnancy outcomes should now be recognized as long-term risk factors for premature mortality in women,” the authors wrote. “Women with adverse pregnancy outcomes need early preventive evaluation and long-term follow-up for detection and treatment of chronic disorders associated with premature mortality.”


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