Association of maternal birth weight and maternal preterm birth with subsequent risk for adverse reproductive outcomes: The Women's Health Initiative

Early Hum Dev. 2023 Sep:184:105839. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2023.105839. Epub 2023 Aug 3.


Background: Advancements in medical technology and pharmacologic interventions have drastically improved survival of infants born preterm and low birth weight, but knowledge regarding the long-term health impacts of these individuals is limited and inconsistent.

Aim: To investigate whether an individual's birthweight or history of being born preterm increases the risk of an adverse reproductive outcome.

Study design: Nested case-control study within the Women's Health Initiative.

Subjects: 79,934 individuals who self-reported their personal birthweight category and/or preterm birth status.

Outcomes measures: Self-reported pregnancy outcomes: subfertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, preterm birth, low birthweight infant, high birthweight infant. Logistic regression models were used to estimate unadjusted and adjusted odds ratios (OR).

Results: After adjustments, individuals reporting their birthweight <6lbs. were 20 % more likely to have a stillbirth or 70 % more likely to have a low birthweight infant and were less likely to have a full-term birth or high birthweight infant during their pregnancy. Individuals reporting a birthweight ≥10 lbs. were more likely to have a high birthweight infant (OR 3.49, 95 % CI 2.73-4.39) and less likely to have a low birthweight infant (OR 0.64, 95 % CI 0.47-0.82). Individuals born preterm were at increased risk for infertility, miscarriage, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and delivering a preterm or low birthweight infant.

Conclusions: As more individuals born preterm and/or low birthweight survive to adulthood, the incidence and prevalence of poor reproductive outcomes may increase. Women born at extremes of birthweight and prematurity may need to be monitored more closely during their own pregnancies.

Keywords: Birth weight; Infertility; Pregnancy; Pregnancy outcomes; Preterm birth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous* / epidemiology
  • Birth Weight
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pre-Eclampsia* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology
  • Stillbirth
  • Term Birth
  • Women's Health