Causes and Risk Factors - a quick look

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Although the cause of preterm birth is often unknown, expectant parents need not leave it purely to chance. There are a number of things a potential or expectant mother should and should NOT do, to limit the chances of preterm birth.


Healthy mother, healthy baby

The cause/s of preterm birth may be due to a number of very different events or triggers. Although there are a lot of risks identified there are no good predictors of preterm birth. This section is intended to give you a guide and a better understanding of the risks, some of which are easier to avoid than others depending on your personal circumstances.
Preemie help is here to help you identify any factors you may be able to avoid.


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Previous Preterm Birth Delivery

The strongest predictor for preterm birth is a previous preterm delivery.

Previous Preterm Delivery

The strongest predictor for preterm birth is a previous preterm delivery, with the recurrence risk ranging from 15% to greater than 50%. The risk is influenced by the previous number of preterm births and the earlier the previous preemie baby arrived. The reason for the increased risk for each mother is likely to vary. For example, spontaneous preterm birth is possibly explained by persistent or recurring intrauterine infections or cervical incompetence, whereas women with medically indicated preterm births are more often attributed to underlying disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, or obesity.

(Goldenberg, Culhane, Iams, & Romero, 2008; Mercer et al., 1999)


Technical Reference List

Goffinet, F. (2005). Primary predictors of preterm labour. Bjog, 112 Suppl 1, 38-47.
Goldenberg, R. L., Culhane, J. F., Iams, J. D., & Romero, R. (2008). Epidemiology and causes of preterm birth. Lancet, 371(9606), 75-84.
Mercer, B. M., Goldenberg, R. L., Moawad, A. H., Meis, P. J., Iams, J. D., Das, A. F., et al. (1999). The preterm prediction study: effect of gestational age and cause of preterm birth on subsequent obstetric outcome. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 181(5 Pt 1), 1216-1221.



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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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