It is important for couples to wait at least a year after birth before trying for another child, a major study suggests.

A minimum gap of 12-to-18 months between pregnancies was shown to be the safest for both mother and child, Harvard scientists found.

Experts say the latest findings are particularly important for older mothers, who tend to try to have several children in a short period to complete their family before their fertility declines, shares Daily Mail.

The study, which analysed 148,500 Canadian pregnancies in the space of a decade, found a gap of less than 12 months was the most dangerous – increasing the risk of maternal death, premature birth, stillbirth and low birth weight.

Study leader Dr Laura Schummers, whose findings are published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, said: ‘Our study found increased risks to both mother and infant when pregnancies are closely spaced, including for women older than 35.

‘The findings for older women are particularly important, as older women tend to more closely space their pregnancies and often do so intentionally.’

The researchers found the risks were different according to a woman’s age.

For those over 35, a short gap between pregnancies was particularly dangerous for the mother herself.

For younger women, the risk to the mother of a short gap between pregnancies was negligible, but there was an increased risk of the baby being born premature.

Among women over 35 who conceived six months after a previous birth, the researchers found a 1.2 per cent risk of maternal death or severe harm.

If they waited 18 months between pregnancies, the risk was more than halved to 0.5 per cent.

For younger women, a six-month gap between pregnancies resulted in an 8.5 per cent risk of preterm birth – delivery before 37 weeks – which dropped to 3.7 per cent with an 18-month gap.

Among over-35s, the preterm birth risk is six per cent for a six-month gap and 3.4 per cent for an 18-month wait.

Fellow researcher Dr Wendy Norman, of the University of British Columbia, said the findings provide the first ‘excellent evidence’ to help women guide the spacing of their children.

‘Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women, and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complication risks,’ she said.

Scientists believe a short gap between pregnancies does not leave the body enough time to recover.

Read more – This is the ideal age gap between children

The most stressful number of kids you could have

Share your comments below

  • An Interesting and a good study


  • It’s not always possible but give yourself time to heal before your body goes into pregnancy again. Some very good reasons listed here so you can be around to care for your children.


  • Carrying a baby is really hard on the body and then the first year of being a mother is hard work so rest is really essential.

    I can’t imagine having morning sickness and feeling so tired with a baby under 1 or 2!


  • That is usually what happens in the animal world too.


  • My kids are all over the 12 month gap.
    Daughter 9.5 years old
    Twin Daughter’s 6.5 years old
    Son 2.5 years
    Son 6 months old


  • Didn’t know that but sounds reasonable a big gap between kids is always a good idea it gives mum time with each child


  • Less then 4 months after the birth of my daughter, I was pregnant with my son (not planned). I was 40yr when my daughter was born and 41yr old when my son was born. Thank God, no complications.


  • I always thought this too. We need time to recover and get our body back to normal


  • Sometimes this can not be helped, my second child was not 18 months from her older brother. She was not planned but happened and I do not regret her coming along. I refuse to believe this is the reason she was not formed right. Otherwise I have a gap of the 18 months plus, even a few years between. I do believe the older mother does need time in between as my last three children I was an older mother. Not planned but still welcomed.


  • I thought this was common knowledge? My obgyn told me this after the birth of my baby at my 8 week check.


  • Sounds reasonable to me it is hard work carrying and delivering a baby.


  • My mum got pregnant with me 6 months after she had my sister. And I was 3 weeks prem.


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