The life-changing research helping all mothers-to-be

Are you aware of the potential dangers of a premature baby?

For any expectant mother, understanding preterm birth – being born prematurely – and how to prevent it should be a top priority. This is because in Australia today, preterm birth is the leading cause of death and disability in early childhood. These disabilities include cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and learning and behavioral problems.

The life-changing research helping all mothers-to-be

Research shows that more than 26,000 Australian babies are born prematurely yearly, and more than 15 million worldwide. However, it can be prevented; preterm birth is not predetermined at birth or in the womb. Once these preemie babies are born, they need a range of life-saving technology to survive and thrive.

This information is not new to those working in the field. They know that learning how to prevent this and then evaluating the impact of that effect should be one of the highest priorities in healthcare today.

In 2014, experts in Western Australia developed a program that cut preterm births statewide by 7.6 percent and at King Edward Memorial Hospital by 20 percent. This provided the catalyst to continue the life-saving research and helped spread awareness about implementing important interventions for safer pregnancies for all women and their babies.

Spurred on by its success, the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance was established in 2018, and today new research discoveries have led to the development of these key interventions:

1. Unless there is obstetric or medical justification, pregnancy must be at least 39 weeks

Although preterm birth is classified as “birth before 37 full weeks of gestation,” a third of brain growth occurs between 35 and 39 weeks.

“Babies born in the age groups of 37 and early 38 weeks are at increased risk of school-age behavioral and learning difficulties,” said Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance Chair Professor John Newnham AM.

2. Measurement of cervical length on all mid-pregnancy scans

This is one of the best predictors of preterm birth. The measurement is easy to perform as part of your mid-pregnancy ultrasound.

3. Use of natural vaginal progesterone (200 mg per evening) if the length of the cervix is ​​less than 25 mm

“Vaginal progesterone is a small tablet of the natural hormone progesterone, which is inserted into the vagina every night before bed until 36 weeks of pregnancy,” said Michelle Pedretti, a chief sonographer at King Edward Memorial Hospital.

“Regular ultrasounds to assess cervical length in women identified with a short cervix are sometimes performed to check cervical length for up to 24 weeks.”

4. If cervical length continues to shorten despite progesterone treatment, consider surgical cerclage

This procedure is performed during pregnancy, when your doctor will sew up your cervix.

5. Use of vaginal progesterone if you have a history of spontaneous preterm birth

Natural vaginal progesterone tablets should be prescribed for all cases with a history of spontaneous preterm birth between 20 and 34 weeks .They should be used every night from 16 to 36 weeks of pregnancy.

6. Women Who Smoking Need To Be Identified And Get Quitline Support

If necessary, adopt a healthy lifestyle before planning a pregnancy.

“It all starts in the home environment well before families decide to embark on the exciting pregnancy journey,” said Co-Lead, of QLD Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance, Dr. Christopher Lehner.

“An active lifestyle, a healthy diet, and smoking cessation all help prevent preterm birth.”

7. Where possible, access continuity of care from a known obstetrician during pregnancy

High-quality evidence suggests that preterm birth is reduced by about 24 percent if you receive care from an obstetrician you know. This is now referred to as obstetric continuity of care.

8. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation in Women with Inadequate Dietary Intake

The research shows that omega-3 supplementation can prevent preterm birth, but only in women who have low omega-3 levels at the beginning of their pregnancy.

The work of the Whole Nine Months, WIRF, and the Australian Preterm Birth Prevention Alliance is focused on ensuring that the next generation of Australians gets the best possible start in life. Visit the website for more.

Lori J. Kile
I love to write and create. I love photography, design, travel and art. I am a full time freelance writer and photographer.I am very excited to be creating new content and opportunities for my readers.