Researchers at Radboud university medical center in Nijmegen advise women who have just stopped taking the pill to wait three months before becoming pregnant. Research indicates a slightly increased risk of preeclampsia and premature birth after using the pill, says lead researcher Marleen van Gelder.
The researchers looked at data from nearly 7,000 pregnant women. About 1050 of them, 15 percent, became pregnant within three months of stopping the pill. That group was compared with pregnant women who had not used a pill for a longer period of time. In the first group preeclampsia and preterm birth occurred more than one and a half times as often as in the second group.
The researchers are wary. “It has not been proven to be causal,” says van Gelder. For example, there may be factors that the researchers have overlooked. “But some restraint would be good,” says the researcher. “So our advice would be to consider delaying the pregnancy for a while, or to discuss it with the partner or possibly a healthcare provider.”
In case of preeclampsia, the pregnant woman suffers from high blood pressure, which can lead to organ damage in the child. Premature birth is when the baby is born within 37 weeks of pregnancy; that can lead to various complications.
The researchers emphasize that the complications are relatively rare. Of women who became pregnant shortly after stopping the pill, about 3 percent had preeclampsia and 6 percent had a premature birth.
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