Best Gap Between Pregnancies is More than 11 Months

Dec 17, 2009
If you want to have a second child, wait at least 6 to 11 months before getting pregnant again to avoid common complications.

Dr. Sorina Grisaru-Granovsky, the author of the study at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, said that spacing pregnancies plays an important role in preventing numerous complications such as premature birth of the baby, mortality at birth, birth defects and low birth weight.  The study revealed that women, who had the gap between pregnancies less than 6 months, were at highest risk of these complications, while the risk decreased if a woman waited at least 11 months before getting pregnant again.

During the research, scientists analyzed data from 440,838 live childbirths in Israel from 2000 to 2005 among women, who had earlier given birth.  More that 8 percent of women became pregnant after less than 6 months, 17 percent waited 6 to 11 months before getting pregnant, while 28 percent had more than 11 months spacing. As much as 36 percent of women became pregnant in 24 to 59 months and only 10 percent of waited more than 5 years to get pregnant again.

In the group with the smallest gap between pregnancies, the risk of premature delivery increased by 23 percent, the odds of having a baby with birth defects was 14 percent higher, while the risk of low birth weight increased by 15 percent. Worryingly enough, the risk of death shortly after birth was 64 percent higher for women who waited less than 6 months and 22 percent higher for women with 6 to 11 months interval between pregnancies.

Previous studies showed that short interval between pregnancies was linked to preterm birth, poor growth of a baby while in the womb, stillbirth and early infant death as well as increased risk of death for a mother. Researchers think that small gap between pregnancies may lead to such complications because of the exhaustion of important nutrients in the woman's body during the previous pregnancy, a hormonal imbalance during the postpartum period and stress feelings related to breastfeeding.

However, scientists warn that waiting more to get pregnant again is not always good for a mother and a baby. The study found that women, who had more than 5 years interval between pregnancies, had had 40 percent higher risk of premature delivery.

It is still not clear what the best interval between pregnancies is, but waiting more than 6 months seems to be very important, scientists say.

The study was published in the recent issue of Contraception journal.