Recurrent spontaneous preterm birth

Recurrent Spontaneous Preterm Birth

Recurrent spontaneous preterm birth (RPTB) is a pregnancy complication that occurs when a woman gives birth before the 37th completed week of pregnancy. A woman can experience RPTB if she has experienced one or more preterm deliveries before, even if the births were not consecutive. Preterm births can happen naturally or induced. RPTB is an increasingly common issue, affecting 1 in 8 women.

RPTB may occur for a variety of reasons, though underlying causes can be difficult to identify. Contributors to RPTB include gestational age discrepancies between pregnancies, uterine insult (caused by C-sections, medical interventions, and the use of certain drugs), predisposition to labor at an early point in the pregnancy, and maternal infection. Generally, erosion of the lower uterine segment or damage to the cervix can lead to recurrent preterm labor.

However, there are some non-physical factors that may be associated with RPTB as well. These include young maternal age, low socio-economic status, lack of prenatal care, inadequate nutrition, substance abuse, multiple pregnancies, psychological stress, and adverse domestic conditions. Furthermore, African-American, Latinx, Native American, and Pacific Islander women are at higher risk of preterm birth.

If you have experienced a preterm delivery in the past and are pregnant again, you should speak to your doctor and discuss possible preventative treatments. To mitigate the risk of RPTB, it is important to be informed of the potential dangers and to manage underlying medical conditions. Additionally, using progesterone supplementation may be a helpful preventative measure for women who are prone to preterm labor.

Common Strategies

Here are some common strategies for reducing the risk of recurrent preterm birth:

  • Monitoring pregnancies more closely and recognizing signs of preterm labor.
  • Regularly attending prenatal care appointments.
  • Talking to a counselor or psychologist to help manage stress.
  • Making lifestyle changes, such as getting enough rest, eating nutritious meals, avoiding smoking and drug use, and avoiding heavy lifting.
  • Using progesterone supplementation.
  • Taking precautions if you are at higher risk for preterm birth, such as avoiding intercourse in the last trimester.