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OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to examine whether blood pressure in early pregnancy and its rise in the second half of gestation are associated with spontaneous preterm birth in healthy, normotensive, nulliparous women. STUDY DESIGN: We included 5167 women with singleton gestation who participated in the World Health Organization Calcium Supplementation for the Prevention of Preeclampsia Trial. Systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure and pulse pressure at baseline (12-19 weeks of gestation) and at the midthird trimester (30-34 weeks) were calculated. Rise in blood pressure was the difference between the midthird trimester and baseline. Preterm birth was defined as early preterm (less than 34 completed weeks) and late preterm birth (34-36 weeks). RESULTS: Women experiencing early or late preterm birth had over 10 mm Hg and 3 mm Hg higher rise, respectively, in systolic, diastolic, and mean arterial blood pressure than women delivering at term. A rise in systolic pressure over 30 mm Hg or diastolic pressure over 15 mm Hg was associated with a statistically significant 2- to 3-fold increase in risk of spontaneous preterm birth. CONCLUSION: An excessive rise in either systolic or diastolic blood pressures from early pregnancy to the midthird trimester is associated with spontaneous preterm birth in a dose-response pattern.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Obstet Gynecol

Publication Date





162.e1 - 162.e6


Adult, Blood Pressure, Cohort Studies, Female, Humans, Pre-Eclampsia, Pregnancy, Premature Birth, Risk Factors