Vaginal Gel Significantly Reduces Premature Births
Doctors are finding the use of vaginal gel containing the hormone progesterone to prevent preterm birth in women with a shortened cervix, which puts them at a higher risk to deliver premature babies. While, not effective in all cases, in a study of 458 women with a shortened cervix, only 9% of those who received the hormone gave birth before 33 weeks. From those given the dummy dose, 16% of the women gave birth before 33 weeks. This has been especially successful in preventing preterm births before 33 weeks that result in long term damage or death.
This treatment is not connected to the treatment Makena which is a synthetic version of the hormone. Instead a natural form of progesterone is used, called Procheive, and is injected directly into the cervix. Not only were preterm births prevented, but the babies were born healthier and with less breathing problems that preterm babies without treatment. The potential cost for this treatment is $20 per daily dose. This may or may not reflect insurance coverage if the possibility is established. The women in the study who used the hormone treatment experienced no side effects during treatment or after giving birth.
A shortened cervix can be the result of a variety of issues. It's said that approximately 100,000 U.S. women deal with a shortened cervix each year. The cervix naturally shortens through the duration of the pregnancy, but, in most cases, returns to normal size after healing. This study and treatment is aimed at women who have already experienced one premature birth and are now pregnant with another child.
While there will never be a cure for preterm babies, the progesterone treatment for women with a shortened cervix are making a big impact. Doctors are starting to make third trimester internal ultrasounds more routine as it is an inexpensive way to measure the cervix and prevent preterm birth in women with a shortened cervix.