Predicting time until birth after waters have broken early

Elizabeth Wastnedge, Anna King and Sarah Stock

If a mother’s waters break early, it can sometimes lead to the baby being born early, but it is difficult to predict exactly when. We’re funding research to help doctors accurately predict time until birth, and ensure that premature babies get the best possible start in life.

Start: 2019

End: 2020

Why do we need this research?

Preterm prelabour rupture of membranes, known as PPROM, is when a pregnant woman’s waters break early before labour starts. PPROM often leads to premature birth, which can cause life-long health problems for the baby as their lungs aren’t fully developed.

Drugs called corticosteroids can be used to help the lungs to mature, but only if they are given within seven days of birth. However, it can be difficult for doctors to predict exactly when a baby will be born following PPROM, as they may not be born within a week.

We need to be able to predict the time of birth more accurately, so that we can treat PPROM better and reduce the chance of health problems for premature babies.

What’s happening in this project?

Scientists funded by Tommy’s are trying to find ways to help doctors predict when a baby will be born after PPROM. To do this, our researchers will be extracting anonymous information from the health records of mothers who experienced PPROM. Using this data, the team will develop a tool which will tell doctors the chances of a baby being born within the next week – the critical timeframe for giving corticosteroids. This will allow them to decide the best time to give corticosteroids to the mother to help their baby’s lungs mature in time for birth.

What difference will this project make?

The results from this project will help doctors to predict when a baby will be born after PPROM. This will help ensure that mothers get the right treatment at the right time, and help to reduce the risk of health complications for them and their baby

Get our research updates

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.

Read Tommy's news and views

  • Picture of Jennie Agg


    A personal meaning of motherhood and Mother's Day

    We asked our lovely friend and supporter, Jennie Agg, what motherhood and Mother's Day means to her. In this piece, she speaks of her difficult past experiences of Mother's Day, how she has grappled with a sense of being in limbo, and the ultimate purity of her feeling of mother love.

  • Collage of photos showing six women who have experienced baby loss, miscarriage and infertility


    Advice to help you cope on Mother’s Day

    In the lead up to Mother's Day, you might find yourself thinking about how to process your emotions and what to do on the day itself. The anticipation can often feel scary or daunting, and finding ways to look after yourself is important. In this blog, you'll find advice from a few of our lovely supporters who understand how you're feeling.

  • Mother holding newborn baby


    Giving some pregnant women progesterone could prevent 8,450 miscarriages a year, say experts

    New research has revealed the benefits of giving progesterone to women with early pregnancy bleeding and a history of miscarriage.

  • Tim Draycott, Clinical Director of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement, giving a presentation to audience at the 'Portraying Pregnancy' event


    Tommy's hosts breakfast morning at the Foundling Museum

    Tommy’s spent yesterday morning at the charming Foundling Museum in London, celebrating the work of Tommy’s National Centre for Maternity Improvement alongside the opening of the museum’s new exhibition, ‘Portraying Pregnancy’.