Common method of preventing early births may be causing more

Kindinger, L. The Conversation. Published online: 5 August 2916

New research has found a commonly used method of preventing early or preterm birth (delivery of a baby before 37 weeks) may in fact be causing more to occur, and leading to further problems.

The “cervical cerclage” is a surgical procedure involving stitching the neck of the womb (the cervix) closed in pregnancy. The cerclage stitch prevents preterm birth as it provides support to a weakened cervix. This prevents the cervix from opening too early in pregnancy, and also acts a barrier, protecting the baby from vaginal infection.

Some two million cervical cerclages are performed annually to prevent preterm birth. Worldwide, 80% of doctors use a tape-like braided suture material for the cerclage stitch. A minority of doctors use a thinner “monofilament” material (like fishing line), although until now there has been no evidence to support this alternate practice.

Our study looked back at pregnancies across ten years at five United Kingdom university hospitals. Comparing the two suture materials, we found rates of stillbirth were three times higher in women who had a braided rather than monofilament cerclage, as were rates of preterm birth – 28% in women with braided suture compared to 17% with monofilament.

Read the full article here

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