Do you see many cases of women with a previous preterm delivery?
Preterm (or premature) delivery refers to a baby who is born before 37 weeks gestation.The proportion of women who have a premature delivery varies widely around the world, but is approximately 5% in New South Wales. However, most complications of prematurity are limited to babies born before 34 weeks, which is thankfully much less common.
Am I at increased risk in my current pregnancy?
Yes.One of the major risk factors for a premature delivery is a woman who previously delivered a baby early. The overall risk of another premature delivery in this pregnancy is approximately 15-20% (higher if a woman has had more than 1 premature delivery).Women who delivered very prematurely (for example at 27 weeks) are at higher risk than women who delivered at 35 or 36 weeks.
What additional treatment do you recommend in this pregnancy?
No treatment has been developed to guarantee that a baby does not arrive early. Nonetheless, for women who previously delivered prematurely and who are therefore at higher risk, it makes sense to watch more closely. Infection is a known risk factor and any symptoms of urinary infection or vaginal discharge should be treated promptly.Smoking is another risk factor which the patient herself has control over.
The main additional treatment are some extra ultrasound scans between 16 and 24 weeks to watch for a cervix which is getting shorter. At SHORE FOR WOMEN, we are experienced in performing cervical length scans and in caring for women with previous preterm deliveries