The rationale for prediction of spontaneous preterm birth is threefold. First, by delineating factors predictive of preterm birth, the mechanisms and biological pathways that lead to spontaneous preterm parturition may be better understood. Second, the use of predictors of spontaneous preterm birth permits identification of a group of women at the highest risk for whom an intervention may be tested and for whom intervention is most needed. The third motivation for prediction of spontaneous preterm birth is a corollary of the second: by identifying women at low risk for preterm birth, unnecessary, costly, and sometime hazardous interventions might be avoided. To date, no single test or sequence of tests has an optimal sensitivity or predictive value. This section reviews clinical, biophysical, and biochemical tests that can be used as predictors for preterm birth.
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