Time to pregnancy and preterm delivery

Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Apr;89(4):594-9. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(97)00045-8.


Objective: To test whether subfertile women may be at higher risk of preterm delivery.

Methods: We used data from two population-based cohort studies on risk factors and pregnancy outcome for approximately 20,000 deliveries in three major Danish obstetric departments. The Aalborg-Odense study comprised all pregnant women attending routine antenatal care at two obstetric departments from 1984 to 1987. In all, 11,850 women (86%) filled in a questionnaire at about 36 weeks' gestation. The Aarhus study addressed women at the routine visit near 16 weeks' gestation from 1989 to 1991; a study questionnaire was returned by 6857 (80%). Both studies excluded women with chronic illnesses, multiple fetuses, and inability to speak Danish. Only women with planned pregnancies were included in the analysis. In all, 8855 and 3985 women from Aalborg-Odense and Aarhus, respectively, were eligible for the analyses. In both cohorts, women were categorized according to their waiting time to pregnancy (0-6 months, 7-12 months, and greater than 1 year) and according to examination or treatment for infertility (yes, no). Preterm delivery was defined as birth before 37 completed weeks.

Results: Compared with women who tried for 6 months or less before they conceived, women who tried for 7-12 months had 1.3 times (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.8, 2.1) the adjusted risk of preterm delivery in both cohorts, and women with a time to pregnancy of greater than 12 months had adjusted relative risks for preterm delivery of 1.6 (95% CI 1.1, 2.2) for Aalborg-Odense and 1.7 (95% CI 1.1, 2.6) for Aarhus. The results remained similar after excluding women with infertility treatment.

Conclusions: Pregnant women with subfertility and clinically defined infertility are more prone to preterm delivery, even in the absence of infertility treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infertility, Female
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors
  • Time Factors