Report of the Office of Population Affairs' expert work group meeting on short birth spacing and adverse pregnancy outcomes: Methodological quality of existing studies and future directions for research


BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that women wait at least 24 months after a livebirth before attempting a subsequent pregnancy to reduce the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal, and infant health outcomes. However, the applicability of the WHO recommendations for women in the United States is unclear, as breast feeding, nutrition, maternal age at first birth, and total fertility rate differs substantially between the United States and the low- and middle-resource countries upon which most of the evidence is based. METHODS: To inform guideline development for birth spacing specific to women in the United States, the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) convened an expert work group meeting in Washington, DC, on 14-15 September 2017 among reproductive, perinatal, paediatric, social, and public health epidemiologists; obstetrician-gynaecologists; biostatisticians; and experts in evidence synthesis related to women’s health. RESULTS: Presentations and discussion topics included the methodological quality of existing studies, evaluation of the evidence for causal effects of short interpregnancy intervals on adverse perinatal and maternal health outcomes, good practices for future research, and identification of research gaps and priorities for future work. CONCLUSIONS: This report provides an overview of the presentations, discussions, and conclusions from the expert work group meeting.

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol
Sam Harper
Sam Harper
Associate Professor of Epidemiology

My research interests include impact evaluation, reproducible research, and social epidemiology.