Experts say mothers should wait at least a year after giving birth before falling pregnant again to reduce health risks posed to both the mother and baby.

Researchers recommend 12-18 month gaps can prevent the risk of short and long term damage to the mother and babies health.

Small gaps between pregnancies risk premature births, smaller babies and infant and mother mortality.

The University of British Columbia carried and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health studied 150,000 Births in Canada. Their findings suggested 12-to-18 months was the ideal length of time between giving birth and becoming pregnant again.

Current World Health Organization guidelines recommend an ideal interval of 24 months and no fewer than 18 months.

However, this groundbreaking research also found:

      • Getting pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth poses health risks for women for all ages
      • There were Greater risks to women over the age of 35, while risks to the infant were found for all women, but were greatest for those aged between 20 and 34
      • Women over 35 who conceived six months after a previous birth had a 1.2% risk of maternal mortality or harm (12 cases per 1,000 pregnancies)
      • Waiting 18 months between pregnancies reduced the risk to 0.5% (five cases per 1,000)
        Younger women who got pregnant six months after a previous birth had an 8.5% risk of premature labour
      • This dropped to 3.7% if they waited 18 months between pregnancies

    The study’s lead author, Laura Schummers, said: “Our study found increased risks to both mother and infant when pregnancies are closely spaced, including for women older than 35.

    “The findings for older women are particularly important, as older women tend to more closely space their pregnancies and often do so intentionally.”

    Mandy Forrester, from the Royal College of Midwives, said the study was “useful research and builds on previous research into birth spacing”.

    “Ultimately, it will be a woman’s choice, whatever age they are, about how long they leave between their pregnancies. What is important is that they are aware of the evidence around birth spacing and that they make their choice armed with the right information.

    “Health professionals will always support a woman in her choice, which will be about what is right for them and their pregnancy.”

    She believes that specialist services should be available for all women when it comes to contraception and advice given by GP’s.

    Source: The BBC/Huffington Post