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Study examines efficacy of premature birth prevention program

One of the strongest indicators for a premature birth is having already had a spontaneous pre-term birth in the past. A new study appearing in the April edition of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology investigates the effectiveness of pre-term birth prevention programs for women who had already delivered one child pre-term.

As one would hope, the women in the test who took part in a pre-term birth prevention program were more likely to carry the baby longer, had less spontaneous pre-term-births and lower morbidity rates.

The study compared the outcomes for 223 pregnant women who had all had a pre-term birth in the past. 70 of the women had been referred to a pre-term birth prevention program and 153 received the standard course of treatment from their primary obstetrician. Those that had been referred to the prevention program had three scheduled visits and sometimes another visit if needed. Patients were screened to measure their gestational progress and offered medication or other treatments as needed.

The researchers found that the women who participated in the prevention program were 28% less likely to deliver prior to 37 weeks of gestation. According to the researchers this information is novel in that prior studies had compared the effectiveness of various treatment regimes to pregnant women who did not receive any care. This study focused instead on comparing the results of the regimented prevention program in comparison to the usual care from a primary obstetrician.

It will be interesting to see if this model of a specialized pre-term birth prevention program becomes more widely available now that it has shown itself to produce better outcomes.

Source: Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology "Pregnancy outcomes in a recurrent preterm birth prevention clinic" April, 2011

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