Age-period-cohort effects in pre-existing and pregnancy-associated diseases amongst primiparous women

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Abstract Background The average age at first birth is steadily increasing in developed countries; however, demographic shifts in maternal age at childbearing have not occurred in isolation. While temporal increases in adverse pregnancy outcomes are typically attributed to increases in maternal age, little is known about how maternal health status has changed across maternal age, period of delivery, and birth cohort. Methods Natality files were used to identify primiparous women delivering liveborn, singleton infants in the USA in 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014 (n = 6,857,185). Age-period-cohort models using the intrinsic estimator adjusted for temporal trends in smoking and gestational weight gain were used to quantify temporal changes in the rates of pre-existing (chronic hypertension, pre-existing diabetes) and pregnancy-associated (pregnancy-associated hypertension, gestational diabetes, eclampsia) diseases. Log-linear models were used to model the impact of temporal changes on preterm birth, small, and large for gestational age (SGA/LGA) births. Results Significant period effects resulted in temporal increases in the rate of chronic hypertension, pregnancy-associated hypertension, and gestational diabetes, and a significant decrease in the rate of eclampsia. These observed period effects were associated with a 10.6% increase in the rate of SGA and a 7.1% decrease in LGA. Had the rate of pre-existing and pregnancy-associated diseases remained static over this time period, the rate of preterm birth would have increased by 5.9%, but instead only increased by 4.4%. Conclusions Independent of changes in the incidence of pre-existing and pregnancy-associated diseases as women age, the obstetric population is becoming less healthy over time. This is important, as these changes have a direct negative impact on short-term obstetric outcomes and women’s long-term health.
Biology of Sex Differences. 2020 Apr 19;11(1):19