Who's at Risk?
While premature labor can happen to anyone, some women have a greater chance than others from the start. Studies show that women have a higher risk if they are pregnant with multiples (twins or triplets), have had a previous preterm birth, or have certain uterine or cervical abnormalities.
Unfortunately, there are additional inborn factors that may increase your risk of preterm labor. African-American women as well as women younger than 17 or older than 35 are more likely to give birth early.
There are now treatments to help prevent preterm labor in certain high-risk women. Studies indicate that the hormone progesterone, when given in mid pregnancy, can decrease the rate of preterm delivery by 30 percent in women who have had a previous preterm birth. While researchers continue to contemplate whether other high-risk women could benefit from this treatment, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) strongly recommends that progesterone should only be offered to women who've had a previous preterm delivery, as they're the only group of women who have been studied thus far.