There’s even more reason to rejoice if you’re an expectant mother in her 30s. A new study has found that pregnant women in their 30s are less likely to have premature babies than their younger or older peers.
Published in the journal PLOS, the study found there is a link between pregnancies later in life and a host of other complications, preterm birth tends not to be one of them.
Florent Fuchs, a gynaecology professor at CHU Sainte Justine in Montreal, and other researchers found that the highest risk group was women over 40, who were 7.8 per cent more likely to deliver prematurely. Women 20 to 24 had a 6.8 per cent risk, while those aged 25 to 29 had a six per cent risk.
The group found to be at the lowest risk for preterm birth was between the ages of 30 and 34 (5.7 per cent), while the risk climbed to 6.3 per cent for mothers between 35 and 39.
The study examined 165,282 births that took place in 32 hospitals across Canada. All the women included in the study were aged 20 and older.
What is the definition of premature birth and how to prevent it?
Premature birth is defined as a baby who is born before the 37th week of gestation, roughly more than three weeks before the estimated due date. According to Statistics Canada, 6.2 per cent of single births in 2013 (the most recent data available) were preterm, while 55.6 per cent of multiple births (twins and triplets) were early.
In November 2017, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto introduced a new initiative named the Alliance for the Prevention of Preterm Birth and Stillbirth, that sets up screening, treatment and education programs for high-risk women.
“The bottom line is that preterm and stillbirths are preventable but we need to implement simple measures that will work,” Dr. Jon Barrett, medical director of the alliance and division chief of maternal medicine at Sunnybrook, said to Global News.
“We know that randomized clinical trials work and population interventions work. We also know that progesterone works in preventing preterm births in women with a short cervix and that taking aspirin will improve the chances of having a full-term birth by 30 per cent [in high-risk women].”
Babies born prematurely run the risk of mild to severe health complications, ranging from being small in size to having issues with major functions like breathing and temperature control, as well as heart, brain, blood, metabolism, gastrointestinal and immune system complications. In the long term, premature babies may develop cerebral palsy, chronic health issues, or behavioural and psychological problems.
While many women who deliver prematurely have no known risk factors, some of the things that could cause preterm birth include: pregnancy with multiples, conceiving through IVF, problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta, and smoking cigarettes or using illicit drugs.