Preterm Births – Ways to Prevent This Large Problem

Preterm births continue to be a large problem in the United States, leading to many problems for these children.  It is the leading cause of infant mortality in our country.  Prevention is always the goal, and today, measuring the cervical length with a transvaginal sonogram may help identify patients who are at a higher risk for preterm births.Stethoscope on Pregnant Belly

Once identified, these patients may benefit from close follow-up plus the progesterone treatments and cervical surgery that are available.  Here are some more details:

  • The cervix may begin to shorten long before preterm labor or before the preterm rupture of membranes occur.
  • The cervical length usually can be measured with the use of a transvaginal sonogram.
  • A shortened cervix found before 20 weeks of pregnancy markedly increases the risk of preterm birth.  Progesterone treatments and cervical surgery, called a cerclage, may reduce the risk significantly.
  • Women with a history of a preterm birth, multiple gestations, or a previous cervical surgery are at a higher risk of early delivery and so may benefit from cervical length measurements.

As always, a dialogue with your health care provider is the first step in receiving the best medical care.  For the prevention of a preterm birth, taking the measurement of the cervical length may be part of that discussion.

For more information, check out: Preterm Births – Information You Should Be Aware Of

-Dr. P

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