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Progesterone Can Reduce the Rate of Early Preterm Birth

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

A new National Institutes of Health study found that progesterone reduced the rate of preterm birth before the 33rd week of pregnancy by 45 percent for one category of at risk women.

The study, published online in Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology today, focused on women who had a short cervix, which is a risk factor for preterm birth. Progesterone is a naturally occurring pregnancy hormone, and a short cervix may be a sign of a progesterone shortage.

Beyond reducing the risk of early delivery, the progesterone treated women’s babies were less likely to develop respiratory distress syndrome, a common breathing complication of preterm infants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 1 in every 8 babies in the U.S. are born prematurely each year. Preterm infants are at high risk of long term health and developmental problems including learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, cerebal palsy, and early death.

So for women with a short cervix — which can be identified through routine ultrasound screenings — progesterone treatment could be an important way to increase the length of pregnancy, resulting in healthier babies.

Learn more about preterm delivery:

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