SuPPoRT: finding the best way to prevent preterm birth in women with short cervixes

Researchers supported by Tommy’s are comparing three ways of treating a short cervix during pregnancy to help stop babies being born too early.

The cervix is important in stopping a baby being born too early. During pregnancy, the cervix changes shape because of the baby growing inside the womb. If it gets too short before the baby is due, there is a high risk of the baby being born prematurely.

If the cervix is less than 25mm when a woman is under 23 weeks pregnant, it is too short and should be treated. At the moment, there are three treatments that can be used if this happens. Some women have a small surgical procedure called cervical cerclage. This involves putting a stitch around the cervix to try and help it stay closed, keeping the baby inside the womb. Others are given progesterone, a natural hormone that is usually made in the ovary during the menstrual cycle. This is given vaginally using a suppository. Finally, some women use a cervical pessary: a silicon device put in by a doctor that sits around the cervix to help it stay closed. Putting a pessary in doesn’t need an operation.

So far, these three ways of stopping premature birth haven’t been compared. We want to find the best way to treat women who have a short cervix, to give them the best chance of having a healthy baby. SuPPoRT is a randomised control trial that aims to find this out.

The study started in 2015 and is still recruiting women. Find out more about taking part in Tommy's clinical trials.

Researchers

Professor Andrew Shennan, Dr Rachel Tribe, Dr Natasha Hezelgrave, Helena Watson, Alexandra Ridout

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Funding

This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by Tommy's, the National Institute for Health Research, and the Biomedical Research Centre at Guy's and St Thomas' Foundation Trust

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