Hormone treatment. The only preventive drug therapy is progesterone (pronounced proh-JES-tuh-rohn), a hormone produced by the body during pregnancy, which is given to women at risk of preterm birth, such as those with a prior preterm birth. This preventive therapy is given beginning at 16 weeks of gestation and continues to 37 weeks of gestation.1 The treatment works among all ethnic groups and can improve outcomes for infants.
Cerclage. A surgical procedure called cervical cerclage (pronounced sair-KLAZH) is sometimes used to try to prevent early labor in women who have an incompetent (weak) cervix and have experienced early pregnancy loss accompanied by a painless opening (dilation) of the cervix (the bottom part of the uterus). The term "incompetent cervix" often refers to a shortened cervix diagnosed by a cervical ultrasound. In the cerclage procedure, a doctor stitches the cervix closed. The stitch is then removed closer to the woman's due date.
- Meis, P. J., Klebanoff, M., Thom, E., Dombrowski, M. P., Sibai, B., Moawad, A. H., et al. (2003). Prevention of recurrent preterm delivery by 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate. New England Journal of Medicine, 348, 2379–2385. [top]
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