A new medical study from Europe suggests there may be fewer “adverse pregnancy outcomes” for women who become pregnant weeks after having a miscarriage or abortion.
The cohort study, which was conducted by various university researchers around the world, analyzed pregnancies in Norway to see if the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended a six-month waiting period after a miscarriage. or induced abortion to reduce the risk of a pregnancy complication.
Adverse pregnancy outcomes that the WHO guidelines would aim to prevent include preterm birth, spontaneous preterm birth, small-for-gestational-age birth, large-for-gestational-age birth, preeclampsia (high blood pressure) and diagnoses of gestational diabetes mellitus.
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The study investigated the risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes after pregnancy loss because the “underlying evidence [WHO’s] recommendation is rare” and may not pose as much risk as previously thought.
The study results were published in PLOS Medicine, a peer-reviewed medical science journal, on Tuesday, November 22.
The researchers studied 72,765 birth records from three Norwegian health registries from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2016, including the Medical Birth Registry of Norway, the Norwegian Patient Registry and the GP Database.
Interpregnancy interval (IPI) and six adverse pregnancy outcomes were analyzed separately for births occurring after miscarriages (total of 49,058) and births occurring after induced abortions (total of 23,707) in over the eight-year period.
Birth-related patient records were analyzed for maternal age, pregnancy, year of delivery, smoking status during pregnancy, and pre-pregnancy body mass index.
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The researchers sorted and compared pregnancies that occurred less than three months after pregnancy loss, three to five months after pregnancy loss, six to 11 months after pregnancy loss, and more than a year after pregnancy loss.
The six adverse pregnancy outcomes were reviewed and calculated for each interval group.
Women who became pregnant within three months or three to five months after a miscarriage reportedly had lower risks of small-for-gestational-age births at 8.6% and 9%, respectively.
Pregnancies occurring less than three months after an induced abortion were “associated with a nonsignificant but increased risk of [small for gestational age births]at 11.5% compared to those who became pregnant after six to 11 months (10%).
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Conversely, women who became pregnant within three to five months of an induced abortion had a lower risk of a large-for-gestational-age birth (8%) than those who became pregnant after six to 11 months ( 9.4%).
Cases of gestational diabetes mellitus were lower among women who became pregnant less than three months after miscarriage (3.3%) than among women who became pregnant within six to 11 months after miscarriage (4.5%) .
“There was no evidence of higher risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes in women with IPI greater than 12 months after miscarriage or induced abortion,” the study states.
However, there were observable exceptions to “an increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus in women” who became pregnant at 12 to 17 months (5.8%), 18 to 23 months (6.2%) and more than 24 months (6.4%) after a pregnancy loss compared to those who became pregnant six to 11 months (4.5%) after a miscarriage.
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The researchers also say their findings suggest that pregnancies that occurred “within six months” or “as short as three months” were not “associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes”.
The Pregnancy Interval Study found that three in five Norwegian women who miscarried conceived within six months, while one in five Norwegian women who had an induced abortion conceived within six months.
“Our study suggests that conceiving within three months after miscarriage or induced abortion is not associated with increased risks of adverse pregnancy outcomes,” the study concludes. “In combination with previous research, these findings suggest that women could attempt pregnancy soon after a previous miscarriage or induced abortion without increasing perinatal health risks.”
The study authors noted that the research findings “do not support current international recommendations to wait at least six months after an induced miscarriage or abortion,” but the “differences in pregnancy outcomes in function of interpregnancy interval after miscarriage versus induced abortions remain unclear.”
The study says its findings should motivate a review of current guidelines on birth spacing after miscarriage or induced abortion by international health agencies.
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The pregnancy interval study was funded by the Research Council of Norway – a Norwegian government agency – through its Center of Excellence, which provides long-term funding for targeted research into complex problems, according to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
Fox News Digital has contacted the WHO for comment.
The full study can be viewed at journals.plos.org.
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