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Registrybased studies of familial risks

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In our work we  study the relation between adverse pregnancy complications and long-term morbidity and mortality of the mother and the father, with emphasis on the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and reproductive related cancers.

Unlike most other researchers we study long-term health in relation to an individual's complete reproductive history, utilizing high-quality family structured data from Norwegian Health Registries.

For a long time infant health has been studied in relation to adverse pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth. Such adverse pregnancy complications cause increased infant morbidity and mortality. During the last two decades there has been an increased interest in the association between adverse pregnancy complications and long-term maternal health. Cross-sectional observational studies have shown that mothers with adverse pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia, preterm delivery, or intrauterine growth restriction have increased morbidity and mortality, and die at younger ages. Thus, there is emerging evidence that adverse pregnancy complications may be important predictors – and perhaps even determinants – for maternal development of chronic diseases later in life.

In addition to adverse pregnacy complications we focus on the effects of parity on morbidity and mortality of parents. As shown by Grundy and Kravdal women with no children or only one child have increased long-term mortality compared with women having two or more children. Thus, parity is important itself when studying the long term health women and men. 

Our motivation for focusing on future maternal and paternal health is the clear potential for preventing chronic diseases in the long term. For example, women with pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia or placental abruption could be targeted for preventative measures or additional monitoring for the development of cardiovascular disease. We think our work may alter our understanding of long-term consequences of adverse pregnancy complications on health, and may lead to a better understanding of the importance of parity in itself when studying long term survival.

For any enquiries, please contact research group leader professor Rolv Skjærven.