Life-threatening complications during pregnancy: greater long-term risk of death

January 26, 2021

A research team from the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM) has shown that women who have had serious complications during pregnancy are twice as likely to die up to three decades later.

Serious conditions such as stroke, cardiac complications, acute kidney failure and pre-eclampsia affect just under 5 % of women during pregnancy and childbirth.

In a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, CRCHUM researcher Dr. Nathalie Auger and postdoctoral fellow Ugochinyere Vivian Ukah examined the long-term mortality risks of women with these types of pregnancy complications by analyzing more than 1.2 million records of women who gave birth in Quebec between 1989 and 2016.

Their findings? Compared to women who had no serious pregnancy complications, women in the study were twice as likely to die after childbirth, either in the postpartum period (42 days and less) or afterwards. Although there was a decline over time, the greater risk of death was still felt several years after delivery, with death occurring an average of 8.3 years earlier for women with severe pregnancy complications compared with no complications.

The research team was also able to identify the main causes of mortality after 42 days: serious cardiac complications during pregnancy (7 times more likely to die), acute renal failure (4 times more likely), and strokes (4 times more likely).

From a clinical point of view, closer follow-up and preventive interventions to reduce the risk of premature mortality could be justified for women with severe pregnancy complications.
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This research was funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Further reading: "Severe Maternal Morbidity and Risk of Mortality Beyond the Postpartum Period" by U. Vivian Ukah et al. in Obstetrics & Gynecology DOI: 110.1097/AOG.0000000000004223

About the CRCHUM

The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is one of North America's leading hospital research centres. It strives to improve adult health through a research continuum covering such disciplines as the fundamental sciences, clinical research and public health. Over 1,850 people work at the CRCHUM, including more than 550 researchers and more than 460 graduate students. chumontreal.qc.ca/crchum @CRCHUM

About Université de Montréal

Deeply rooted in Montreal and dedicated to its international mission, Université de Montréal is one of the top universities in the French-speaking world. Founded in 1878, Université de Montréal today has 13 faculties and schools, and together with its two affiliated schools, HEC Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal, constitutes the largest centre of higher education and research in Québec and one of the major centres in North America. It brings together 2,400 professors and researchers and has more than 67,000 students. umontreal.ca

University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)

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