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History of preterm birth and subsequent cardiovascular disease: a systematic review.


A history of preterm birth (PTB) may be an important lifetime risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in women. We identified all peer-reviewed journal articles that met study criteria (English language, human studies, female, and adults ≥19 years old), that were found in the PubMed/MEDLINE databases, and that were published between Jan. 1, 1995, and Sept. 17, 2012. We summarized 10 studies that assessed the association between having a history of PTB and subsequent CVD morbidity or death. Compared with women who had term deliveries, women with any history of PTB had increased risk of CVD morbidity (variously defined; adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] ranged from 1.2-2.9; 2 studies), ischemic heart disease (aHR, 1.3-2.1; 3 studies), stroke (aHR, 1.7; 1 study), and atherosclerosis (aHR, 4.1; 1 study). Four of 5 studies that examined death showed that women with a history of PTB have twice the risk of CVD death compared with women who had term births. Two studies reported statistically significant higher risk of CVD-related morbidity and death outcomes (variously defined) among women with ≥2 pregnancies that ended in PTBs compared with women who had at least 2 births but which ended in only 1 PTB. Future research is needed to understand the potential impact of enhanced monitoring of CVD risk factors in women with a history of PTB on risk of future CVD risk.