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Obstet Gynecol. 1995 Nov;86(5):744-8.

Maternal anthropometry and idiopathic preterm labor.

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Department of Pediatrics, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.



To assess the etiologic role of maternal short stature, low pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI), and low rate of gestational weight gain in idiopathic preterm labor.


We carried out a three-center case-control study of 555 women with idiopathic onset of preterm labor (before 37 completed weeks), including two overlapping (ie, nonmutually exclusive) subsamples: cases with early preterm labor (before 34 completed weeks) and cases with recurrent preterm labor (before 37 completed weeks plus a history of prior preterm delivery or second-trimester miscarriage). Controls were matched to cases by race and smoking history. All subjects responded in person to questions about height, pre-pregnancy weight, gestational weight gain, and obstetric and sociodemographic histories.


Maternal height, pre-pregnancy weight, and gestational weight gain demonstrated excellent test-retest reliability, with intra-class correlation coefficients of 0.97, 0.99, and 0.91, respectively. Based on matched analyses, women with a height of 157.5 cm or less had an increased risk of idiopathic preterm labor (odds ratio [OR] 1.85, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.25-2.74), as did those with a pre-pregnancy BMI less than 19.8 kg/m2 (OR 1.63, 95% CI 1.09-2.44) or a gestational weight gain rate less than 0.27 kg/week (OR 1.74, 95% CI 1.16-2.62). Conditional logistic regression models containing all three anthropometric variables and controlling for parity, marital status, language, age, and education yielded virtually identical point estimates and CIs.


Maternal short stature, low pre-pregnancy BMI, and low rate of gestational weight gain may lead to shortened gestation by increasing the risk of idiopathic preterm labor.

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