Identifying pregnant women at risk of pre-term birth

1 November 2023 |

Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 weeks’ gestation, can have serious consequences for the health and development of a baby. It is the leading cause of perinatal illness and deaths

Researchers at the Women’s collaborated with local and international colleagues to find out what previous pregnancy and labour outcomes increase the risk of a woman having a subsequent baby who is born prematurely.

Lead Researcher Dr Vicky Xu said the researchers analysed existing data from 430 women and more than 700 pregnancies and found women’s obstetric history is a risk factor in subsequent preterm births.

The research shows an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth if women have had a previous pre‑term birth and/or an emergency caesarean section at both the first and second stage of labour. It found a previous “in labour” emergency caesarean should be considered a risk factor for subsequent preterm birth.

“These research findings point to the value of collaborative research and the importance of clinical databases that help identify significant clinical problems that require further research for their solutions,” Dr Xu said.

The study identified the need for further work on how best to identify and treat pregnant women in these at‑risk groups, to minimise the likelihood of preterm birth and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of mothers and babies.

This research was published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology and the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.