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Early Pregnancy Complications Could Mean Problems Later

June 29, 2009

A new study suggests that expectant mothers who have complications early on should be supervised more closely in current and future pregnancies, BBC News reported.

Complications during the first three months of pregnancy increase the risk of premature birth and other difficulties in that pregnancy and future ones, researchers said.

Additionally, a history of miscarriages was linked to future premature births, data culled from 75 studies showed.

The new study may help identify those at high risk, according to the analysis presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s (ESHRE) annual meeting.

Experts looked at several common complications of the first three months of pregnancy.

The study found that an increased risk of pre-eclampsia, premature delivery and more than double the risk of having a low birth weight or very low birth weight baby was associated with vaginal bleeding in the early weeks of pregnancy.

These risks increased further with an intrauterine hematoma, an accumulation of blood in the womb.

Extreme early morning sickness was associated with a three times higher risk of premature delivery and a nearly three-fold risk of low birth weight.

Increased risks of later problems were also noted for women who had been pregnant with twins but miscarried one baby very early in pregnancy.

Women that have had one or more miscarriages had nearly double the risk of a preterm premature rupture of the membrane that surrounds the baby in the womb during an ongoing pregnancy, and it increased the risk of a premature birth.

Also, premature birth was a risk in subsequent pregnancies if a previous pregnancy had to be terminated for any reason.

Experts said that although the study did not address causes of risks in future pregnancies, underlying health problems or lifestyle could be related to such issues.

The extent of future complications was related to the severity or recurrence of the early problems, according to study leader Dr. Robbert van Oppenraaij of Erasmus MC University Medical Centre, in the Netherlands.

He said events and complications in early pregnancy are amongst the most common complications for pregnant women and can be extremely distressing for them.

“It is important to interpret the symptoms and to understand not only the short-term consequences, but also the long-term consequences of these early pregnancy complications,” he added.

The results suggested that some patients would benefit from closer monitoring, according to Tony Rutherford, chair of the British Fertility Society.

He suggests that these patients need to have supervision during their pregnancies.

“The main concern is with early birth and if we can try and identify these patients we can improve the outcome,” he said.

The underlying reasons for some of the associations would include lifestyle factors such as smoking, nutrition and also conditions such as hypertension and diabetes, said Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

He advised that doctors should be more aware if someone has problems in early pregnancy, especially repeated problems.

“Maybe we should be watching these women a bit more closely,” he added.

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