ultrasoundreterm delivery is directly and independently associated with increased risk to maternal cardiovascular health, according to an oral report given at the 33rd annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and later published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Increased risk of cardiovascular incidents remained in women across all preterm deliveries, regardless of confounding factors.

More than 47,000 women met criteria for inclusion in the study between 1988 and 1999. Nearly 6,000 women delivered infants preterm. These women, accounting for 12.5% of the initial study group, were followed in excess of 10 years. The average age of women in the preterm group at birth was 28 years. The average number of years from birth to first hospitalization for cardiovascular event was 9.6 years.

In total, slightly more than 5% of women in the preterm delivery group were hospitalized for cardiovascular health conditions or diagnostic evaluation. The majority of women suffered simple events (3.7%) followed by non-invasive diagnostic procedures (1.4%), invasive diagnostic procedures (0.5%) and complex cardiovascular events (0.4%). Overall hospitalizations remaining comparable among preterm groups delivering before 34 weeks gestation and after 34 weeks gestation, but incidence of complex cardiovascular events were more prevalent when delivery occurred before the 34th week.

Conclusion: This study reinforces the results from previous studies reporting increased risk of cardiovascular events in patients who given birth prematurely. Previous studies indicated a possible connection between induced preterm deliveries associated with possible preeclampsia or impaired fetal growth – so researchers took these factors into consideration. When these cases were removed from the study pool, cardiovascular risk remained higher in women giving birth prematurely. The health of women who give birth prematurely may be best served with on-going cardiovascular monitoring. Preterm delivery could be an indication or red flag for future cardiovascular health.

Source: Roy Kessous, MD, Ilana Shoham-Vardi, PhD, Gali Pariente, MD, Gershon Holcberg, MD, Eyal Sheiner, MD, PhD. An association between preterm delivery and long-term maternal cardiovascular morbidity. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Volume 209, Issue 4, Pages 368.e1-368.e8, October 2013. Doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2013.05.041.