Preterm Birth: Why and how does it happen?
Preterm Birth is the greatest cause for newborn mortality and the most common reason for pregnant women to be hospitalized. In the United States, 12% of babies are born premature. Preterm labor preceded 50% of these preterm births. In addition to newborn deaths, preterm delivery is a cause for long term neurological impairment in children.
Identifying women who will give birth preterm is an inexact process. History of a previous preterm birth is a strong indicator. Other diagnostic tools such as cervical length (as determined by ultrasound) and chemical changes of the cervix (revealed in fetal fibronectin testing) can aid in detecting early signs.
Multiple treatments have been developed to help prevent preterm delivery including cerclage for incompetent cervix, vaginal progesterone for early cervical shortening and intramuscular progesterone for suppression of uterine activity in someone who has previously delivered early.
If someone appears to be slated for inevitable early delivery, steroids can be given to the mom to help mature the baby’s lungs while still in utero.
Prenatal care involves close monitoring to help prevent and treat preterm labor. Women’s Health Care’s goal is a safe and successful pregnancy. Please contact us at 503-435-2020 for an appointment to discuss any pregnancy concerns.
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