n Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum - The role of ultrasound in the prediction of preterm labour : review articles




Preterm labour (PTL) before 34 weeks gestation which complicates 3-4% of pregnancies is one of the most challenging problems in modern maternity are. It is the single most important cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality and disability in children and adults. About 75% of neonatal deaths occur in infants born prematurely, with over two thirds of these arising in the 30-40% of preterm infants who are delivered before 32 weeks gestation. Although there has been an overall increase in the survival rate, there has been an increase in the short-term morbidity and long term physical and mental disability in infant survivors of very preterm birth. Reduction in the consequences of PTL can either be through strategies involving primary or secondary prevention. Primary prevention in the form of alterations in lifestyle has failed to have any impact on the incidence of PTL. Consequently the only real strategy has to be based on secondary preventative strategies. These involved early diagnosis and improved secondary / tertiary care. This review article focuses on the imaging aspect of secondary prevention and highlights the evidence to support the use of ultrasound in preterm labour.


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