Some types of stress may increase risk for preterm delivery, but many stressful events do not, according to study by a researcher at RTI International.
The study, published in RTI Press, found that being in debt, being injured by a partner, having someone close attempt suicide, and being divorced were associated with an increase risk of preterm delivery, but 13 other events were not.
“Stressful life events have been associated with preterm delivery in some studies but not in others,” said Nedra Whitehead, Ph.D., an epidemiologist at RTI International and the paper’s author. “This study provides some limited support for an association of some life events with preterm delivery, but it is not clear why only these four of the 18 events studied were associated with preterm deliver as they are not similar in type of stress or expected severity.”
According to the research, women who reported being in debt were the most consistently at risk for preterm delivery. They were 9 percent more likely to deliver at 35 to 36 weeks of gestation, 14 percent more likely to deliver at 33 to 34 weeks, and 16 percent more likely to deliver at less than 33 weeks.
However, having a partner who lost his (or her) job was associated with a decreased risk of preterm delivery.
The researcher examined 18 categories associated with an increased risk of at least one category of preterm delivery. The events include legal conflicts, changes in relationships, financial difficulties, physical conflicts, and family illness or death.
The author used data collected by the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System, a survey of American women with a recent live birth, for 1990–1995 to examine the relationship between individual life events and the risk of preterm delivery overall and by levels of severity.
About RTI International:
RTI International is one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. Our more than 3,800 professionals provide research and technical services to governments and businesses in more than 40 countries in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, international development, economic and social policy, energy, and the environment.
Source: RTI International