Spacing Births Better for Babies

April 24, 2006

A bit of belated news: To maximize their chances of delivering healthy babies, women should space their pregnancies by at least 18 months, but wait no more than 5 years in between children, according to scientists.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Colombian researchers found that waiting too little or too long to have second children increased a woman’s chances of premature birth or a low birth weight baby.

The researchers reviewed 67 international studies that covered more than 11 million pregnancies to reach their conclusions.

“The financial cost of birth-spacing programs is lower than the financial cost of infant deaths, of course,” (study co-author Dr. Agustin) Conde-Agudelo said.

Pregnancy and nursing use up nutrients in a woman’s body, he said, and for a woman to get pregnant again before she has a chance to recover nutritionally may mean higher risks for the baby.

As for why long intervals between births cause problems too, he speculated that time could diminish a woman’s reproductive capacity and that factors that decrease fertility also could lead to poor fetal development.

Conde-Agudelo found that the trend held up in both developing and industrialized nations.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was NOT ready to even think about sex for at least six months after my delivery. The thought of women having children so close apart makes my reproductive organs hurt. Thankfully, Mother Nature took care of spacing for me.