Dr. Larissa R. Brunner Huber, professor of epidemiology in the department of public health sciences at UNC Charlotte, has received a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to examine how short birth intervals are associated with some under-studied adverse pregnancy outcomes.
In the U.S., approximately 33 percent of pregnancies are conceived within 18 months of a previous pregnancy. Pregnancies that result from these short birth intervals can pose serious risks for the mother and infant. Dr. Huber’s study will use Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) data to determine the association between short birth intervals and under-studied adverse pregnancy outcomes including small for gestational age (SGA), premature rupture of membranes (PROM), placenta previa, and gestational diabetes; to assess the relationships of selected demographic, lifestyle, and reproductive factors with pregnancy intention among women who have experienced short birth intervals; and to evaluate factors associated with postpartum contraceptive use among women with short birth intervals.
The potential public health impact of the proposed study is substantial.
“If short birth intervals are associated with these adverse outcomes, it will provide further support for encouraging women to space their pregnancies appropriately,” Huber said.
“Understandably, women who have delayed childbearing may not be able to space their pregnancies according to an optimal interval because of concerns that their advanced maternal age may pose complications with conception and pregnancy. So if no association is found, this information would be equally important for healthcare providers to share with this important subpopulation of women.”
Ultimately, findings may underscore the need to provide women with family planning services so that closely spaced pregnancies and unintended pregnancies can be avoided. In addition, specific populations of women who may need more targeted counseling regarding postpartum contraceptive use may be identified.