Reviewed April 2014, next review April 2017
Premature birth and your pregnancy/medical history
Your history of previous pregnancies and your medical history are factors in determining your risk of premature delivery.
If you have had a premature baby in the past, you are more likely to have a premature delivery in future pregnancies.
In fact, the main risk factor for premature delivery is previous premature delivery. The more premature deliveries you have had, and the earlier your babies were born, the higher the risk of premature delivery in a future pregnancy.
You're also more likely to go into premature labour if:
Norman JE, Greer IA (2011) Preterm labour: managing risk in clinical practice Cambridge University Press
BMJ Clinical Evidence (accessed Feb 2014) Premature birth, Aetiology, Best Practice, http://bestpractice.bmj.com/bestpractice/monograph/1002/basics/aetiology.html
Chandiramani M, Shennan AH (2008) Cervical insufficiency: prediction, diagnosis and prevention, The Obstetrician & Gynaecologist,10: 99–106.
Williams JK, McClain L, Rosemurgy AS, Colorado NM (1990) .Evaluation of blunt abdominal trauma in the third trimester of pregnancy: maternal and fetal considerations Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Jan;75(1):33-7
The causes and problems of premature birth
Your premature baby:
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'I'd had two late miscarriages before my premature baby so they tested me for everything - blood tests, scans, and so on. They never found a reason and I just had to accept that.'
'It's natural for women to want answers. Sometimes there is an obvious cause and we can explain it, but other times we don't know why they went into premature labour. Hopefully the research we're carrying out in our clinic will eventually give us answers to these questions.'
DANIELLE ABBOTT, CLINICAL RESEARCH FELLOW IN OBSTETRICS, ST THOMAS' HOSPITAL, LONDON