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Am Heart J. 2010 Feb;159(2):215-221.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2009.11.017.

Parity and risk of later-life maternal cardiovascular disease.

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Cardiovascular Division and Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Research Unit, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.



Prior studies relating parity with maternal cardiovascular disease (CVD) have been performed in relatively small study samples without accounting for pregnancy-related complications associated with CVD.


We examined the associations between parity and maternal risk of later-life CVD in a population-based cohort study using data from the Swedish population registers. Women born from 1932 to 1955 were followed until the occurrence of CVD, death, emigration, or end of follow-up (December 31, 2005). Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate associations between parity and risk of CVD accounting for birth year, yearly income, education level, country of birth, hypertension (pregestational hypertension or gestational hypertension, with or without proteinuria), diabetes (type 1, type 2, or gestational diabetes), preterm birth, small for gestational age, and stillbirth.


During a median follow-up time of 9.5 years (range 0-23.5), there were 65,204 CVD events in the full sample of women. Among 1,332,062 women, parity was associated with CVD in a J-shaped fashion, with 2 births representing the nadir of risk (global P value < .0001). Upon accounting for pregnancy-related complications in a subset of women with at least 1 childbirth after 1973 (n = 590,725), the association of parity with CVD was similar. Compared with women with 2 childbirths, the multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (95% CIs) for women with 1 and >/=5 births were 1.09 (1.03-1.15) and 1.47 (1.37-1.57), respectively.


In conclusion, parity was associated with incident maternal CVD in a J-shaped fashion, even after accounting for socioeconomic factors and pregnancy-related complications.

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