Despite advances in both neonatal care and our understanding of the pathophysiology of the condition as a whole, preterm birth is a phenomenon that continues to have significant impact globally. It remains the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide, and the prevalence is increasing. Not only does it carry significant social cost, preterm birth places huge economic burden on the healthcare system. It is increasingly recognised that preterm birth is a multifactorial syndrome, rather than a single condition and we have seen a number of exciting advances in predictive and preventative tools for clinical practice. The ability of quantitative fetal fibronectin to predict spontaneous preterm birth in both high and low risk women has been one of these recent promising developments. Exploration continues into the potential for quantitative fetal fibronectin to be used in synergy with transvaginal ultrasound measurement of cervical length to improve predictive accuracy. Developments focus on enabling clinicians to predict risk at the point of care. Research continues to explore cervical cerclage, progesterone and the Arabin pessary as prophylactic interventions for women at risk of preterm birth, with increasing evidence for their potential role. Latest exploration of reactive management for imminent preterm birth is altering our clinical approach and is likely to improve outcomes. This review article will discuss some of the recent developments we have seen in this exciting area.
- Cervical length
- Preterm birth
- Quantitative fetal fibronectin