Hang in There a Little Longer, It's Worth It

Preterm birth prevention clinics help increase length of gestation, reduce premature births

(RxWiki News) Preterm birth prevention clinics are effective at both increasing the number of full term births and reducing health complications among newborns, according to new research.

In order to determine whether intervention leads to better outcomes after delivery, Sean Esplin, M.D., of Intermountain Healthcare enrolled women who were at risk of delivering prematurely (women with at least one previous preterm delivery) into a preterm-birth prevention clinic. According to Dr. Esplin, the clinic was designed to systematically provide the best treatments available to women at high risk of preterm labor. These treatments included standardized counseling, management recommendations, and close surveillance.

The researchers compared outcomes for newborns from 70 mothers in the intervention group to the outcomes for those from 162 mothers who received the usual care (care from their primary obstetrician). The women in both groups had similar pregnancy histories that put them at high risk of preterm labor.

Esplin and colleagues found that women in the preterm birth prevention clinic delivered later in their pregnancy compared to those who received usual care. Although admissions to neonatal intensive care units were similar for newborns from mothers in both groups, the rates of major health complications were lower among the newborns from mothers in the prevention clinic group.

In conclusion, the study's results show that the preterm prevention clinic was effective. The intervention reduced the risk of repeated premature delivery by 28 percent. On average, women in the prevention clinic had pregnancies that lasted one week longer.

According to Tracy Manuch, M.D., one of the study's authors, the success of this preterm birth prevention clinic suggests that other healthcare facilities should establish similar programs.

Every year, over half a million babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) in the United States. Premature births - also called preterm births - are the main cause of death among newborns. Premature infants who do survive have an increased chance of developing many lifelong health complications, compared to fully matured newborns. In the United States, preterm births account for $26 billion in health care costs per year.

Findings from the study were recently presented at The Pregnancy Meeting™, the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Review Date: 
February 14, 2011