Premature birth: Like mother, like child?

Were you born prematurely? If so, it’s more likely that your own baby will be born prematurely as well.

That’s the finding of a new study conducted in Canada. Researchers found that the odds of delivering a preterm infant, defined as being born before 37 weeks gestation, rose more than 40 percent for women who were born between 32 and 36 weeks themselves, regardless of other risk factors. And the earlier in pregnancy a woman had been born, the higher the prematurity risk for her child.

The researchers studied health records from about 900,000 women in Quebec who had delivered at least one baby. They then divided the women into three groups: women born before 32 weeks gestation; between 32 and 36 weeks; and at term, approximately 40 weeks. They discovered that just over 14 percent of women who were born before 32 weeks delivered babies prematurely during the study period, as did 13 percent of those born between 32 and 36 weeks. Nearly 10 percent of women born at term delivered prematurely, according to the study.

The researchers caution that this study, which was published in the May issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology was designed to find an association between a woman’s prematurity and her baby’s, not to prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Still, if you were a preemie, let your obstetrician know.

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