Prematurity is the main reason why we lose babies in this modern age.
There are many causes that lead to preterm births. Some are detectable and modifiable. Others are not.
Among the causes of preterm births include: fetal abnormalities, bleeding, urinary/vaginal infections, serious poorly controlled medical conditions and cervical incompetence.
Every pregnancy carries a risk to preterm birth. The risk is 8% in the first pregnancy and reduced to 3% in the second if the first ended at term.
However if the first ended prematurely, the 2nd pregnancy carries a 15% risk of it happening again. And if the 2nd too ended prematurely the 3rd carries a 25% risk, rising to 45% in the 4th.
Women with previous preterm birth OR who have had surgeries on their cervix (for abnormal pap smears) should have their risk assessed in early pregnancy between the 11th to 13th week of pregnancy ideally. Treatments are available to reduce the risk of it happening again.
Certain risk factors can be looked for during pregnancy that may further increase the risk. RIsk modification can then be done. THe image shows the detection of an extremely short cervix at the 20th week of pregnancy.
Preterm birth is preventable.