Post Pregnancy Stroke Risk

By: Alere Staff
Publication Date: Thu, 05/01/2014

Pregnancy is a unique and exciting time in a woman’s life. The reward from pregnancy is the infant placed in a mother’s arms upon delivery, the new focus of her life. Health complications such as blood clots can, in some situations lead to a stroke. This is the furthest thing from a new mother's mind.

Unfortunately, researchers in the U.S. have noted a dramatic increase in the incidence of post pregnancy stroke over the last two decades. Blood clots developing during pregnancy are common and it is a risk in itself. Women who are generally healthy when they become pregnant do not have a high risk of stroke. However, women with one or more of the health factors that can lead to stroke have nearly double the risk when they become pregnant. These factors can include obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, congenital heart disease, blood clotting disorders, and complications during pregnancy or delivery.1

For the first six weeks after delivery, a new mom’s risk of stroke is approximately 10 times greater than normal.1 In weeks seven to twelve post-partum, the risk is decreased to about twice the normal risk. After twelve weeks, the risk of stroke is the same as when not pregnant. 

Stroke is life-changing and can cause permanent disability. While stroke post-pregnancy is something to be aware of, the good news is that the absolute risk of a healthy woman experiencing it is very low. Your doctor can identify your risk pre and postpartum.

  1. E. V. Kuklina, X. Tong, P. Bansil, M. G. George, W. M. Callaghan. Trends in Pregnancy Hospitalizations That Included a Stroke in the United States From 1994 to 2007: Reasons for Concern? Stroke, 2011.