Premature labor also called preterm labor is one of the commonest problems encountered in pregnancy. A normal pregnancy lasts anywhere between thirty seven to forty two weeks. Premature labor refers to a woman going into labor before starting the thirty seventh week of her pregnancy.Nearly twelve percent of all pregnancies end in premature labor. Preemie’s or premature babies have a higher risk of suffering from multiple health complications as compared to infants who are born after a full term pregnancy.
While experts have still not been able to determine the exact factor which can trigger premature labor, they have discovered that there are numerous causative factors which can actually increase a woman’s chances of delivering an infant prematurely.Some of the factors responsible for premature labor have been examined in this article.
Possible Causes of Premature Labor
Uterine and Vaginal Infection
Infections which arise in the genital tract or the uterus are considered to be potential triggers for premature labor. In fact, it can be safely stated that infections are the primary cause for premature labor. A whopping fifty percent of all premature labor cases have been attributed to infections which had arisen in the uterus or the vagina of the pregnant women.
Vaginal or uterine infections can give rise to inflammation. Inflammation of the uterus or vagina can lead to the release of a substance called prostaglandin. The enzyme prostaglandin is responsible for initiating labor. Some times a persistent urinary tract infection can also cause premature labor. So, it is imperative that pregnant women should report even the smallest vaginal infection to their gynecologist in order to prevent preterm labor.
Structural Anomalies of the Uterus and/or Cervix
It is very difficult for women who suffer from structural anomalies of the uterus or cervix to carry a fetus full term. An incompetent cervix or a malformed uterus can significantly increase a woman’s chances of delivering a preterm baby.
Premature labor has often been linked to vaginal bleeding. Vaginal bleeding can occur when the placenta tears away from the uterus. Heavy vaginal bleeding can lead to maternal death and/or infant’s death. Mothers who suffer from bleeding disorder conditions like hemophilia have a higher risk of going into premature labor.
Preterm labor has also been attributed to placental problems. A placenta which grows downwards to completely cover the cervical opening can also stimulate preterm labor. Placental abruption, wherein the placenta detaches itself from the uterine wall can also trigger preterm labor.
Women who are carrying twins, triplets or more have a higher risk of going into premature labor as opposed to women who are carrying a single fetus. Multiple pregnancies are high risk pregnancies which mostly end in preterm labor.
Most women are unaware of the fact that periodontal diseases can actually cause preterm labor. Bacteria which cause gum inflammation can also trigger inflammation of the cervix or the uterus. As mentioned earlier an inflammation in the cervix or the uterus can cause the enzyme prostaglandin to be released into the blood stream. This in turn triggers premature labor.
Exposure to synthetic estrogen, high maternal stress levels and fetal abnormalities are some of the other factors which can significantly increase a woman’s chances of going into pre term labor.