Length of time to conception may affect pregnancy health

Reading belly

Women who take more than two years to get pregnant naturally are more likely to have health problems during pregnancy and to give birth to unhealthy babies, new research from Finland shows.

As women age, they take longer to achieve pregnancy. Up to 85% of women younger than 35 years old will get pregnant within one year of trying, while just half of women older than 35 will. Dr Kaisa Raatikainen and colleagues from Kuopio University Hospital found that these older women were at a greater risk of developing pregnancy-related diabetes and infections of the membranes surrounding the fetus during pregnancy.

The research team investigated associations between time to pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes for 17,114 pregnancies delivered between 1989 and 2007 at Kuopio University Hospital. None of the women used assisted reproductive technologies. Three quarters got pregnant within six months, while 12 percent took six months to a year to conceive, 6 percent took between 13 months and two years and about 4 percent took longer than two years to become pregnant.

Once the researchers adjusted for certain variables, they found that women who took more than two years to get pregnant were 51 to 64 percent more likely to have adverse pregnancy outcomes such as premature delivery and giving birth to an unhealthy baby.

Additionally, women who have a hard time getting pregnant are more likely to have social behaviors or conditions which inhibit conception and complicate pregnancy, like obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking, the published report showed.

The study may call into question some of the assumptions about assisted reproductive technologies (ART) and poor pregnancy outcomes. Poor pregnancy outcomes may not be related to the ART but to the length of time to achieve pregnancy. “Thus, concerns about its safety might be put into a new perspective,” the report noted.

Source: Fertility and Sterility


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