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- Low socioeconomic status
- Lack of prenatal care and social support
- Being underweight or obese before becoming pregnant
- Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
- Severe depression or anxiety
- High blood pressure
- Clotting disorders
- Hormonal imbalance
- Certain medications to treat health problems or exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES)
- Illicit drug use
- Alcohol use
- Placental abruption
- Premature rupture of the membranes
- Carrying more than one baby
- Vaginal bleeding after 16 weeks, or during more than one trimester
- Infection in the cervix, uterus, vagina, or urinary tract including sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Being pregnant with a single fetus after in vitro fertilization (IVF)
- Presence of a retained intrauterine device
- Incompetent cervix
- Too much or too little fluid surrounding the baby
- Surgery on your abdomen during pregnancy
- Amniotic fluid infection
- Intrauterine fetal death
- Intrauterine growth delay
- Birth defects in the baby
- History of one or more spontaneous second-trimester abortions
- Less than six months between giving birth and the beginning of the next pregnancy
- A previous preterm birth
- Uterine fibroids
- Abnormally shaped uterus
- Previous bariatric surgery
- Abdominal pain that feels something like menstrual cramps
- Dull pain in the lower back
- Pressure in the pelvis and tightening in the thighs
- Vaginal bleeding or spotting, or watery discharge
- Tocolytics—may delay labor for a few days
- Corticosteroids—to help the baby's lungs develop
- Antibiotics—if an infection is suspected or present
- Get the proper prenatal care throughout your entire pregnancy.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, and drugs.
- Keep chronic diseases under control.
- Stay active during your pregnancy. Your doctor can give you exercise guidelines that are right for you.
- If you are at high-risk for premature birth, talk to your doctor about progesterone therapy.
American Pregnancy Association http://americanpregnancy.org
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Management of stillbirth. Practice Bulletin. March 2009;102.
Hall R. Prevention of premature birth: do pediatricians have a role? Pediatrics. 2000;105(5):1137-1140.
Premature labor. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/prematurelabor.html. Updated May 2007. Accessed October 9, 2012
Preterm labor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013.
Prevention of preterm labor and preterm birth. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated January 16, 2013. Accessed April 22, 2013.
10/29/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Bakhireva LN, Schatz M, et al. Asthma control during pregnancy and the risk of preterm delivery or impaired fetal growth. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2008;101:137-143.
7/6/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Kumar A, Devi SG, et al. Calcium supplementation for the prevention of pre-eclampsia. Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009;104:32-36.
1/22/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Calderon-Margalit R, Qiu C, et al. Risk of preterm delivery and other adverse perinatal outcomes in relation to maternal use of psychotropic medications during pregnancy. Am J Obstet Gynecol . 2009;201(6):579.e1-8.
8/23/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: McDonald SD, Han Z, et al.; Knowledge Synthesis Group. Overweight and obesity in mothers and risk of preterm birth and low birth weight infants: systematic review and meta-analyses. BMJ. 2010;341:c3428.
10/25/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Mori R, Ota E, et al. Zinc supplementation for improving pregnancy and infant outcome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jul 11;7:CD000230.
11/19/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Roos N, Neovius M, et al. Perinatal outcomes after bariatric surgery: nationwide population based matched cohort study. BMJ. 2013;347:f6460.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm
- Review Date: 06/2013
- Update Date: 11/19/2013