A woman’s risk of stroke doubles - but still is extremely small - during the six weeks after she delivers a baby, a study has found.
Doctors long have noticed a link between childbearing and strokes. But the new study found that contrary to common belief, the hazard increases just after delivery, not during pregnancy itself.
Because strokes are so unusual among young women, the actual number of strokes after pregnancy is still small. The researchers estimate there might be eight more strokes than otherwise would be expected among every 100,000 women in the period immediately after pregnancy.
Just why this happens is unknown, although the doctors speculate that hormonal changes somehow are involved.
The study was conducted by Dr. Steven J. Kittner and others at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. It was published in today’s issue of New England Journal of Medicine.
The doctors reviewed records of all women ages 15 through 44 who had been discharged from any of 46 hospitals in central Maryland and Washington, D.C., in 1988 or 1991.
They found 18 strokes during the six weeks after 141,238 women had given birth.