Rise in preterm births linked to clinical intervention

By Rob Dabrowski on 19 January 2018 Premature Birth Research Induction

Preterm births in South Australia have increased by 40% over 28 years, according to new research.

The authors of study say early intervention by medical professionals has resulted in the majority of the increase.

The team from the University of Adelaide analysed statistics for 550,000 births in South Australia between 1986 and 2014.

They found the rate of preterm births increased by 40% from 5.1% in 1986 to 7.1% 2014.

Spontaneous preterm births accounted for the majority these, rising from 3.5% in 1986 to 3.8% in 2014.

However, the authors found 80% of the increase in the rate was due to medical professionals ending pregnancies prematurely.

Petra Verburg, lead author, said: ‘The rate of clinician-initiated preterm delivery increased from 1.6% in 1986 to 3.2% in 2014.

‘Clinicians may initiate preterm delivery due to pregnancy complications, by either inducing labour or performing a caesarean section.

‘Problems such as hypertension or impaired growth of the fetus are the reasons doctors initiate the majority of preterm births.’ 

The research also reveals that, while preterm birth rates have risen by 40%, the rate of stillbirths has fallen by 45% (4.2% to 2.3%) in the same time period.

The study is published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology. For more information, click here.