Objective: To test the hypothesis that pregnant and recently pregnant women enjoy a "healthy pregnant women effect," we compared the all natural cause mortality rates for women who were pregnant or within 1 year of pregnancy termination with all other women of reproductive age.
Study design: This is a population-based, retrospective cohort study from Finland for a 14-year period, 1987 to 2000. Information on all deaths of women aged 15 to 49 years in Finland (n=15,823) was received from the Cause-of-Death Register and linked to the Medical Birth Register (n=865,988 live births and stillbirths), the Register on Induced Abortions (n=156,789 induced abortions), and the Hospital Discharge Register (n=118,490 spontaneous abortions) to identify pregnancy-associated deaths (n=419).
Results: The age-adjusted mortality rate for women during pregnancy and within 1 year of pregnancy termination was 36.7 deaths per 100,000 pregnancies, which was significantly lower than the mortality rate among nonpregnant women, 57.0 per 100,000 person-years (relative risk [RR] 0.64, 95% CI 0.58-0.71). The mortality was lower after a birth (28.2/100,000) than after a spontaneous (51.9/100,000) or induced abortion (83.1/100,000). We observed a significant increase in the risk of death from cerebrovascular diseases after delivery among women aged 15 to 24 years (RR 4.08, 95% CI 1.58-10.55).
Conclusion: Our study supports the healthy pregnant woman effect for all pregnancies, including those not ending in births.