According to a study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, mothers who smoke and have a preterm birth more than triple their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The risk of maternal CVD increased in a dose response relationship with the number and severity of preterm births, as indicated on a Science Daily news report. The study linked the perinatal records of 902,008 mothers during 1994 to 2011 with mothers’ subsequent hospital admission for CVD or death from CVD. The analyses were conducted to compare the risk for CVD.

Dr Anh D. Ngo, lead author of the study, states, “Smoking and preterm birth are established risk factors for maternal CVD. Fertility treatment is pushing up rates of preterm birth and smoking in pregnant women remains high, so knowledge of the impact of these conditions on CVD is important for prevention efforts. This is the first study to evaluate whether smoking and preterm birth synergistically increase mothers’ CVD risk.”

The researchers determined that both smoking and preterm birth were independently and associated with the risk of CVD in affected mothers. The mothers who smoked and had a preterm birth had a 3.35 greater risk of CVD than non-smokers with term births, which was 29% greater than adding the risks of only smoking or having a preterm birth, according to Science Daily.

The research team also discovered that CVD risk was even greater in mothers who smoke. In smoking women, the CVD risk was 3.83 times greater with an extremely preterm birth and 3.18 times greater with a moderately preterm birth when compared to non-smoking mothers with term births. In addition, smoking women had a 4.47 greater risk of CVD with two or more preterm births and 3.2 greater CVD risk with one preterm birth.

Ngo says, “Our research shows for the first time that smoking and preterm birth interact to create a greater CVD risk than either risk factor on its own. Our findings have numerous implications for CVD prevention.” Ngo adds, “Smoking women who seek assisted reproductive technology should be counseled about their risk for preterm birth and CVD in later life so that they can make an informed decision.”

Ngo adds, “Smoking women who stop smoking when planning to get pregnant will receive dual protection. They will avoid the increased risk of having a preterm birth and they will avoid the elevated risk of getting cardiovascular disease when they reach an older age. Smoking mothers who have already had a preterm birth should quit smoking if they haven’t already done so and go for periodic CVD screening.”

Source: Science Daily