Recommendations

Recommendation III-1: Improve methods for the identification and treatment of women at increased risk of preterm labor. Researchers should investigate ways to improve methods to identify and treat women with an increased risk of preterm labor.

Specifically:

• The content and structure of prenatal care should include an assessment of the risk of preterm labor.

• Improved methods for the identification of women at increased risk of preterm labor both before pregnancy and in the first and second trimesters are needed.

• Combinations of known markers of preterm labor (e.g., a prior preterm birth, ethnicity, a short cervix, and biochemical and biophysical markers) and potential new markers (e.g., genetic markers) should be studied to allow the creation of an individualized composite assessment of risk.

• More accurate methods are needed to o diagnose preterm labor, o assess fetal health to identify women and fetuses that are and that are not candidates for the arrest of labor, and o arrest labor.

• The success of perinatal care during preterm birth should be based primarily on perinatal morbidity and mortality rates as well as the rate of preterm birth, the numbers of infants born with low birth weights, or neonatal morbidity and mortality.

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