Article Summary: Rapid repeat pregnancy among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities

According to a new study published earlier this week, women with intellectual and developmental disabilities are at an increased risk of rapid repeat pregnancy (RRP), which is defined by researchers as a pregnancy (live or lost) occurring within 12 months since the previous birth.

RRP is associated with a number of negative outcomes, including stillbirth, preterm birth, growth restriction in the baby, and infant death. Additionally, RRP can be an indication that a woman has difficulty making informed reproductive choices and lacks access to family planning services.

The researchers of this study analyzed data on 2,855 women with intellectual and developmental disabilities compared to 923,367 women without a disability. Women were 18 to 49 years old and had a live birth between April 2002 and March 2013.

Overall, the researchers found that 7.6% of women with disabilities had a RRP, compared to 3.9% of women without disabilities.

Women with intellectual and developmental disabilities were also more likely than those without disabilities to:

  • Be younger than 25 years of age
  • Live in rural areas and lower income neighbourhoods
  • Receive social assistance
  • Experience chronic medical conditions, mental illnesses, and substance use disorders
  • Have low continuity of primary care

Take Home Message:

The results of this study suggest that the rate of RRP is higher among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and a combination of social, health, and system disparities could help explain this increased risk. These findings highlight the need for comprehensive support around family planning and health reproductive choices for this group of women.

Full Journal Reference:

Brown, H. K., Ray, J. G., Liu, N., Lunsky, Y., & Vigod, S. N. (2018). Rapid repeat pregnancy among women with intellectual and developmental disabilities: A population-based cohort study. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 190(32): E949-E956. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.170932

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