Short interpregnancy intervals and adverse pregnancy outcomes by maternal age in the United States

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Annals of Epidemiology


Birth intervals, Maternal age, Maternal health, Premature birth


Purpose: The purpose of the article was to examine the association between short interpregnancy intervals and adverse outcomes by maternal age among U.S. women.

Methods: Using publicly available natality files for 2013-2016 singleton births, we compared the risks of preterm birth, gestational diabetes, gestational hypertension, and maternal morbidity (delivery-related complications) for less than 6-month, 6 to 11-month, and 12 to 17-month to 18- to 23-month interpregnancy intervals, overall and by maternal age. Models adjusted for maternal demographics, conditions, and behaviors.

Results: Among 2,365,219 births, adjusted risk ratios (aRR) for preterm birth overall for intervals less than 6, 6-11, and 12-17 months were 1.62 (95% confidence interval: 1.60, 1.65), 1.16 (1.15, 1.18), and 1.03 (1.02, 1.05), respectively, compared with 18-23 months. Intervals less than 6, 6-11, and 12-17 months were significantly protective overall for gestational diabetes (aRR range: 0.89-0.98), gestational hypertension (aRR range: 0.93-0.95), and maternal morbidity (aRR range: 0.93-1.08). All aRRs attenuated or remained flat with increasing maternal age.

Conclusion: Interpregnancy intervals less than 18 months showed different patterns of association for preterm birth compared with maternal outcomes, overall and across age. This suggests that increasing maternal age may have discordant effects on associations between short interpregnancy interval and adverse perinatal and maternal outcomes.