A new study has found that mothers should wait at least a year between giving birth and getting pregnant again, reports the BBC.
Researchers however say they do not need to wait as long as 18 months – as currently recommended by the World Health Organization.
It is believed that small gaps between pregnancies can be harmful to both mother and child, increasing the risks of premature births, smaller babies and mortality.
A researcher said: “Whether the elevated risks are due to our bodies not having time to recover if we conceive soon after delivering or to factors associated with unplanned pregnancies, the recommendation might be the same: improve access to postpartum contraception, or abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse following a birth.”
What was the study?
The research involved 150,000 births in Canada which were studied by the University of British Columbia and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
The results were then published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
What were the results?
Researchers found that 12 to 18 months was the ideal length of time between a mother giving birth and becoming pregnant again.
This is despite current World Health Organisation guidelines recommending an ideal gap of 24 months, and no fewer than 18 months.
The study also found that getting pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth was associated with risks for women for all ages.
There were however significant differences between the risks for older and younger mothers.
For example, there were risks to the mother only for women over the age of 35 – while risk to the infant were found for all women.
It found though that risks to the infant were greatest amongst women aged 20 to 34.
What does it mean for older women?
Senior study author Dr Wendy Norman said it was “encouraging News” for women over 35 hoping to start a family.
“Older mothers for the first time have excellent evidence to guide the spacing of their children,” she explained.
“Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complication risks.”
The study found that women over 35 who conceived six months after a previous birth had a 1.2% risk of maternal mortality or harm.
This equates to around 12 cases per 1,000 pregnancies.
However, waiting 18 months reduced the risk to 0.5% – a significant improvement to 5 cases per 1,000 pregnancies.
The study’s lead author, Laura Schummers, added:”The findings for older women are particularly important, as older women tend to more closely space their pregnancies and often do so intentionally.”
What about younger mothers?
Researchers found that young women who got pregnant six months after a previous birth had an 8.5% risk of premature labour.
This is reduced to around 3.7% risk if they waited 18 months between the pregnancies.
Researcher Dr. Sonia Hernandez-Diaz said there may be specific reasons for shorter pregnancies gaps amongst generations.
“Short pregnancy spacing might reflect unplanned pregnancies, particularly among young women,” she said.
Source : DailyPost