A recent study showed very promising results in reducing the number of remature births among women in high risk groups. The treatment involved a daily administration of a hormone gel. The study showed that the number of premature birth dropped by nearly half among those receiving the treatment.
It seems that there have been a number of promising signs lately in the effort to reduce the number of premature births. We have talked recently in this space about genetic and blood tests which are being developed to identify women who may have an increased risk of preterm birth. Those testing capabilities become all the more necessary and useful as treatments like this one start to show increased success.
As you may know about two thirds of preterm births in the United States are spontaneous, that is that they were not the result of medical decision to accelerate the birth by cesarean section or other means in order to protect the health of the mother or the child.
In the study a number of pregnant woman were given sonograms to identify those with a unusually short cervix. A sorter cervix is a significant risk factor for preterm delivery. Among those with the condition half were given the hormone gel treatment and half were not. The group that had the treatment had a 45% reduction in the instances of preterm births.
One of the authors of the study, while not discounting the importance of the efficacy of the hormone treatment, highlighted that this only increases the importance of identifying women who may be at higher risk. He suggested that all women have sonograms performed around the 20th week of pregnancy.
Source: New York Times "Hormone Is Said to Cut Risk of Premature Birth" GARDINER HARRIS, May 2, 2011