Infants born to mothers in Washington state who moved during the first trimester were more likely to be born preterm and have low birth weight, according to findings published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. Researchers suggested that providers consider screening patients for plans to move.
According to Julia C. Bond, MPH, from the department of epidemiology at the University of Washington School of Public Health, and colleagues, moving during childhood has been shown to have adverse effects on kids, leading to drug abuse, lower educational achievement, suicidality and poor mental health during adolescence and adulthood. However, the link between moving during pregnancy and adverse birth outcomes is less clear, they said.
“Previous research suggests an association between maternal psychosocial stress and adverse infant birth outcomes, including preterm birth and low birth weight,” Bond and colleagues wrote. “Changing residences is often stressful, and thus could induce stress-related adverse health consequences.”
The researchers conducted a population-based cohort study that included 28,011 mothers who moved during the first trimester of pregnancy and gave birth between 2007 and 2014, as well as women who did not move during the first trimester (n = 112,367).
According to the findings, women who moved in the first trimester were at an increased risk for having an infant with low birth weight compared with women who did not move, 6.4% vs. 4.5% (adjusted RR = 1.37; 95% CI, 1.29-1.45). The researchers also observed an increased risk for preterm birth among mothers who moved in the first trimester (9.1% vs. 6.4%; aRR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1,36-1.49). Furthermore, women who moved had a slightly increased risk for having a child who was small for gestational age (9.8% vs. 8.7%; aRR = 1.09; 95% CI, 1-1.09).
The effects of moving within the first trimester were similar among mothers of all socioeconomic levels, the researchers added.
“Moving may be a useful marker for care providers of pregnant women,” Bond and colleagues wrote. “Regardless of whether the negative impact of moving is driven by the stress from the move itself, stressful situations leading to a move, or disruption of care because of the move, asking patients about plans to move and using that as an opportunity to counsel patients on stress-mitigating techniques and care continuity may be beneficial. Further, there is some evidence suggesting that maternal perception of stress may be a mediating factor in the association between stressful events and birth outcomes.”
The researchers said clinicians may want to monitor pregnant women, especially those who are prone to feeling stress, if they mention plans of moving during the first trimester. – by Katherine Bortz
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.