I. Definition of Preterm Labor

  1. Gestational age 20-37 weeks
  2. Contractions with Uterine Cervical Length change

II. Epidemiology

  1. Incidence 7-8% of deliveries

III. Differential Diagnosis

IV. Risk Factors

  1. No associated risk factor in 50% of Preterm Labor
  2. Tobacco abuse over 1/2 pack per day Cigarettes
  3. Interval between prior pregnancy <6 months
  4. Prior Cervical Cone Biopsy
  5. Pyelonephritis
  6. Advanced cervical dilatation
  7. Increased Uterine Size
    1. Twin Gestation
    2. Polyhydramnios
  8. Low pre-pregnant weight (Body Mass Index <19.8)
  9. Low socioeconomic status or poor nourishment
  10. Prior preterm delivery
  11. History spontaneous second trimester abortion
  12. African American race
  13. Chemical Dependency (Cocaine, Heroin)
  14. Periodontal Disease
  15. Comorbidity
    1. Diabetes Mellitus
    2. Thyroid disease
    3. Hypertension
  16. Uterine anomaly
    1. Unicornuate Uterus or bicornuate Uterus
    2. Uterine Fibroids
    3. Diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure in utero
  17. Genitourinary Infection (40% of preterm births)
    1. Urinary Tract Infection
      1. Pyelonephritis
      2. Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Pregnancy
    2. Vaginal infections
      1. Group B Streptococcus (PPROM)
      2. Bacterial Vaginosis
        1. (1995) N Engl J Med 333:1732-42 [PubMed] (or open in [QxMD Read])
    3. Sexually Transmitted Disease
      1. Neisseria gonorrhoeae
      2. Chlamydia trachomatis
      3. Trichomonas vaginalis
      4. Syphilis
    4. Infections with possible risk
      1. Ureaplasma urealyticum
      2. Mycoplasma hominis
  18. References
    1. Goldenberg (2008) Lancet 371(9606): 75-84 [PubMed] (or open in [QxMD Read])

V. Symptoms

  1. Keep a high index of suspicion
    1. Contraction frequency does not predict risk
    2. Symptoms do not predict risk
  2. Pelvic pressure
  3. Vaginal pain
  4. Menstrual-like cramps
  5. Backache
  6. Vaginal Discharge or fluid leakage (see PPROM)
  7. Vaginal Bleeding

VI. Signs

  1. Examine Cervix as soon as possible
    1. Assess Uterine Cervical Length and dilation
    2. Avoid cervical exam until labor if PPROM confirmed
  2. Examine Uterus
    1. Assess for Abruptio Placentae
    2. Check for firm, tender Uterus with minimal relaxation

VII. Evaluation: Four key concerns

  1. Determine if patient is in labor
    1. Evaluate abdominal or Pelvic Pain
    2. Distinguish Preterm Labor from preterm contractions
  2. Determine Uterine Cervical Length
  3. Determine if membranes are ruptured
    1. See Labs below
  4. Establish clear Gestational age
    1. Review Last Menstrual Period
    2. Review Estimated Due Date
    3. Review prior Ultrasound dating
    4. Does fundal height correlate with Gestational age
  5. Evaluate maternal and fetal health
    1. Consider underlying injury or infection
      1. Recent trauma
      2. Vaginal infection
      3. Urinary Tract Infection in pregnancy
    2. Consider comorbidity
      1. Gestational Diabetes
      2. Pregnancy Induced Hypertension
      3. Intrauterine Growth restriction
      4. Oligohydramnios or Polyhydramnios
    3. Evaluate fetal activity and fetal health
      1. External Fetal Monitoring

VIII. Labs

  1. Evaluate for Rupture of Membranes
    1. Fluid seen pooling from cervical os
    2. Nitrazine Testing
    3. Ferning
  2. Microscopy to evaluate Vaginitis
    1. Saline wet preparation
    2. KOH Preparation
  3. Culture
    1. Gonorrhea Culture
    2. Chlamydia culture
    3. Group B Streptococcus Culture (Todd Hewitt media)
      1. Periurethral or outer-third of vaginal swab
      2. Rectal swab
    4. Urine Culture
    5. Consider non-genitourinary sources of infection
  4. Other Testing
    1. Fetal Fibronectin
      1. Reassuring if negative
      2. Poor Positive Predictive Value
    2. Urine testing
      1. Urinalysis and Urine Culture
      2. Urine Drug Screening
  5. Fetal Lung Maturity Assessment
    1. Indicated for 34 week gestation or greater

IX. Imaging: Obstetric Ultrasound

  1. Fetal evaluation
    1. Biophysical Profile
    2. Amniotic fluid index
  2. Placental location
  3. Fetal Presentation
  4. Estimated Fetal Weight (EFW)
  5. Ultrasound Exam of Uterine Cervical Length
  6. Oligohydramnios (may suggest Rupture of Membranes)

X. Efficacy: Evaluation criteria

  1. Evaluation criteria do not predict preterm delivery
    1. Fetal Fibronectin
    2. Uterine contraction frequency
    3. Cervical Length assessment
  2. These criteria however have Negative Predictive Value
    1. No Cervical Length change and negative fibronectin
    2. Suggests <10% chance of preterm delivery
  3. References
    1. Iams (2002) N Engl J Med 346:250-5 [PubMed] (or open in [QxMD Read])

XI. Management

XII. References

  1. Iams in Gabbe (2002) Obstetrics p.755

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Ontology: Premature Obstetric Labor (C0022876)

Definition (NCI) A disorder characterized by delivery of a viable infant before the normal end of gestation. Typically, viability is achievable between the twentieth and thirty-seventh week of gestation.
Definition (NCI) Ouster of a viable infant before the normal end of gestation, commonly defined as interruption of pregnancy between the twentieth-thirty seventh completed weeks after the onset of the last menstrual cycle.
Definition (MSH) Onset of OBSTETRIC LABOR before term (TERM BIRTH) but usually after the FETUS has become viable. In humans, it occurs sometime during the 29th through 38th week of PREGNANCY. TOCOLYSIS inhibits premature labor and can prevent the BIRTH of premature infants (INFANT, PREMATURE).
Definition (CSP) onset of labor before term but after the fetus has become viable, in humans usually sometime between the 20th and 37th week of gestation.
Definition (NCI) Ouster of a viable infant before the normal end of gestation, commonly defined as interruption of pregnancy between the twentieth-thirty seventh completed weeks after the onset of the last menstrual cycle.
Concepts Pathologic Function (T046)
MSH D007752
ICD10 O60
SnomedCT 156120003, 6383007, 156118001, 199046005, 267310009
English LABOR PREMATURE, LABOUR PREMATURE, Labor, premature, Premature Obstetric Labor, preterm labor, preterm labor (diagnosis), Premature labour (disorder), Labor premature, Labour premature, LABOR PRETERM, LABOR, PREMATURE, Premature delivery, PREMATURE LABOR, Obstetric Labor, Premature [Disease/Finding], labor preterm, labour premature, preterm labour, Labour;premature, labors preterm, labour preterm, labor premature, Premature labor, Premature labour, Premature onset of labor, Premature onset of labour, Preterm labor, Preterm labour, Premature labor (finding), early onset; labor, labor; early onset, labor; premature or preterm, labor; premature, premature; labor, Labor - premature, Labour - premature, Premature Labor, Labor, Premature, Labor, Premature Obstetric, Labor, Preterm, Obstetric Labor, Premature, Preterm Labor, premature labor, premature labour, Labor;premature
Italian Travaglio prematuro, Parto pretermine, Parto prematuro
Dutch premature weeën, bevalling prematuur, prematuur; weeën, vroeg optredend; weeën, weeën; prematuur, weeën; vroeg optredend, voortijdige bevalling, Bevalling, premature, Premature bevalling
German Wehentaetigkeit verfrueht, verfruehte Wehentaetigkeit, WEHEN VORZEITIG, vorzeitiges Einsetzen der Wehen, Wehen, vorzeitige
Spanish Trabajo de parto prematuro, Parto prematuro, Premature labour, Premature labor, Labor - premature, Labour - premature, PARTO PREMATURO, trabajo de parto prematuro (hallazgo), trabajo de parto prematuro, Alumbramiento prematuro, Trabajo de Parto Prematuro, Parto Prematuro, Parto Pretermino, Parto Pretérmino, Trabajo de Parto Pretermino, Trabajo de Parto Pretérmino
Swedish Värkarbete, för tidigt
Japanese ソウザン, 早産, 分娩-早期
Czech porodní děj - předčasný nástup, Předčasná porodní činnost, Předčasný porod
Finnish Ennenaikaiset synnytyssupistukset
Russian RODY PREZHDEVREMENNYE (29-38 NEDEL'), RODY PREZHDEVREMENNYE, РОДЫ ПРЕЖДЕВРЕМЕННЫЕ, РОДЫ ПРЕЖДЕВРЕМЕННЫЕ (29-38 НЕДЕЛЬ)
Portuguese PARTO PREMATURO, Trabalho de parto prematuro, Trabalho de Parto Prematuro, Parto Prematuro, Parto Pré-Termo, Trabalho de Parto Pré-Termo
French TRAVAIL PREMATURE, Travail prématuré, Accouchement prématuré
Polish Poród przedwczesny, Poród niewczesny
Hungarian Korai vajúdás, Idő előtti vajúdás, Partus praematurus, Praematurus vajúdás