Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
National Health and Medical Research Council
NHMRC Number : GNT1127265
Background: Having a preterm ( < 37 weeks' gestation) birth may increase a woman's risk of early mortality. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (hereafter Aboriginal) women have higher preterm birth and mortality rates compared with other Australian women. Objectives: We investigated whether a history of having a preterm birth was associated with early mortality in women and whether these associations differed by Aboriginal status. Methods: This retrospective cohort study used population-based perinatal records of women who had a singleton birth between 1980 and 2015 in Western Australia linked to Death Registry data until June 2018. The primary and secondary outcomes were all-cause and cause-specific mortality respectively. After stratification by Aboriginal status, rate differences were calculated, and Cox proportional hazard regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI) for all-cause and cause-specific mortality. Results: There were 20,244 Aboriginal mothers (1349 deaths) and 457,357 non-Aboriginal mothers (7646 deaths) with 8.6 million person-years of follow-up. The all-cause mortality rates for Aboriginal mothers who had preterm births and term births were 529.5 and 344.0 (rate difference 185.5, 95 % CI 135.5, 238.5) per 100,000 person-years respectively. Among non-Aboriginal mothers, the corresponding figures were 125.5 and 88.6 (rate difference 37.0, 95 % CI 29.4, 44.9) per 100,000 person-years. The HR for all-cause mortality for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers associated with preterm birth were 1.48 (95 % CI 1.32, 1.66) and 1.35 (95 % CI 1.26, 1.44), respectively, compared with term birth. Compared with mothers who had term births, mothers of preterm births had higher relative risks of mortality from diabetes, cardiovascular, digestive and external causes. Conclusions: Both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women who had a preterm birth had a moderately increased risk of mortality up to 38 years after the birth, reinforcing the importance of primary prevention and ongoing screening.
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