Last updated September 2011. Planned review date: September 2013
Treatments for those at risk of premature birth
The kind of treatment you get will depend on the reason why you are considered at high risk of giving birth prematurely.
If you have an infection
Infection is a major cause of premature birth. Infections can be caused by a range of bugs, from E Coli and group B streptococcus (which can cause urinary tract infections and kidney infections) to sexually transmitted diseases and common conditions affecting the urinary tract.
If you have pre-eclampsia
Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy-related condition that can lead to eclampsia - a serious disease that can cause seizures, liver and kidney failure, difficulty with breathing and blood clots. Eclampsia may affect the baby's growth, and can be life-threatening to both mother and baby.
Problems with the cervix (cervical weakness or incompetence)
If you have had one or more premature babies or cervical surgery in the past and your cervix is getting shorter in early pregnancy, or if you have had a number of premature deliveries but your cervix has not shortened, you may be offered a cervical stitch (also known as a cerclage or cervical suture).
If there are signs you are going into labour
Many women experience signs of labour without giving birth prematurely. However, you should always call your hospital or midwife if you think you are about to go into labour prematurely.
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In this section
Reducing the risk of premature birth:
You can also read about
The following organisations can give you more information about the topics covered in this section.
Rennie, JA (2005) Roberton's Textbook of Neonatology (4th ed), London, Churchill Livingstone, p188
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (2006, reviewed 2010) The Management of Severe Pre-eclampsia/Eclampsia, http://www.rcog.org.uk/files/rcog-corp/GTG10a230611.pdf
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