Objective: To look for associations between previous fetal loss and fetal malformation or low birthweight in a subsequent pregnancy.
Design: A case-control study with place of birth, time and sex matched controls.
Setting: 72 South American maternity hospitals.
Subjects: 18,534 malformed, 1150 non-malformed babies of low birthweight and 16,394 controls. All babies were from mothers with at least one previous pregnancy.
Main outcome measures: Frequency of stillbirths and miscarriages in the previous pregnancy and outcome of the index pregnancy.
Results: Multiple malformation, Down's syndrome, anencephaly, spina bifida, pes equinovarus, congenital dislocation of the hip and low birthweight are associated with previous fetal loss.
Conclusion: A miscarriage or a stillbirth in a previous pregnancy should be taken into account when the risk of malformations or low birthweight in a subsequent pregnancy is assessed.