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Identifying Risks for Preterm Birth

UPMC Content 2

A birth is considered preterm if it occurs more than three weeks before a woman’s due date. Every day, more than 1,400 babies in the U.S. are born preterm. Many will be too small and too sick to go home.

Preterm babies face weeks or even months in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). These babies face an increased risk of serious medical complications and must be monitored before going home.

Some tests are fairly accurate in identifying women who have an increased risk for premature delivery. One effective tool used by our MFM sub-specialists is:

Cervical length – Women with a short cervix and those whose cervix becomes short over the course of pregnancy are at increased risk of preterm birth.

The length of a woman’s cervix can be measured using vaginal ultrasound. This test is fairly accurate in determining which women are at risk for preterm birth.