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Pre-Term Labor & Birth

Pre-term birth is defined as the delivery of your baby before the 37th week of pregnancy.

Pre-term labor is defined as the onset of regular uterine contractions accompanied by a change in the dilation and thinning of the cervix before the 37th week of pregnancy.

Very few clear answers have been found as to the causes of pre-term labor - this is partially due to the fact that the exact causes of normal full-term labor are not fully understood. However, some factors that are associated with pre-term labor and birth are:

  • premature (before onset of labor) pre-term rupture of the membranes (PPROM)
    • it is not known why the membranes rupture too early in some pregnancies
    • once the membranes are ruptured you and your baby become susceptible to infection because the protective seal around the baby is broken
  • infections of the vagina, cervix or uterus
    • these have been studied as possible causes of pre-term rupture of the membranes
    • when infection is present, toxins produced by the germ may weaken the membranes making them more likely to leak or rupture
  • organisms believed to increase the risk of early rupture of the membranes include:
    • gonorrhea
    • trichomonas
    • beta-streptococcus
    • bacterial vaginosis
  • Strategies to help reduce your risk for pre-term labor include:
    • early and consistent prenatal care
    • reducing your exposure to sexually transmitted diseases
    • good nutrition and weight gain
    • avoiding the use of harmful substances such as cigarettes, alcohol and illicit drugs
    • becoming educated about the signs and symptoms of pre-term labor and seeking early treatment if you experience any of them

© Cuyahoga County Office of Early Childhood - Invest in Children Child Fatality Review Committee

The Child Death Review Program is funded by: Cuyahoga County, and The Child and Family Health Services Block Grant provided through the Ohio Department of Health. The Child Death Review Program is administered by: The Cuyahoga County Board of Health.