Born too Soon : Causes of Preterm Delivery


  It is very heartbreaking for any mother to have a baby that is born prematurely. As a doctor, I feel for these mothers.
 Infants that are born before 37 weeks from first day of the last menstrual period are called premature as defined by the WHO. Parents who have premature babies are often left wondering why their baby was born too soon.  The most common causes of premature delivery are listed below.

The causes of prematurity or premature birth are multifactorial and this involves an intricate interaction between maternal and fetal factors.

  • Fetal distress – there are several reasons why fetus inside the uterus goes into distress and maternal factors is the most common reason. Since the baby is in distress, heart rate going down or movement inside the womb is not good, then the doctor has no choice but to deliver the baby prematurely than to lose the baby inside the uterus.
  • Multiple gestation – multiple gestation of twin pregnancy rarely goes to term. Most of these pregnancies should be terminated a little bit early because both babies do not have adequate space to grow inside the uterus anymore.
  • Placental factors – one of the most common causes of premature delivery is the interference of the function of the placenta. Abruptio placenta or premature separation of the placenta is one.
  • Uterine factors – irregular uterine shape hinders the proper growth of the infant inside the womb. There are also women who are very prone to premature dilatation of the cervix which causes the mother to have premature labor because the uterus can no longer hold the baby inside.
  • Maternal illness – a pre-existing maternal disease like chronic heart disease or an infection like urinary tract infection is one of the most common cause of preterm delivery.
  • Fetal genetic disorder – a fetus that has a genetic disorder are at risked to be born prematurely. For babies who are born prematurely, a screening for several genetic disorders should be carried out as soon as possible.

How can premature delivery be prevented?

      It is well known that causes of premature delivery are interplay of both maternal and fetal factors.  It is very difficult to predict the risk of preterm delivery without proper prenatal care. To avoid premature delivery, it is always advisable to have a regular and proper prenatal check up with a doctor or any health care provider. In this way, possible causes of early labor can be prevented or treated as soon as possible.

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