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Flashcards in PRETERM LABOUR Deck (31)
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What is the definition of preterm labour?

Labour occurring after 24 weeks and before 37 weeks of pregnancy.


Up to what point of gestation should attempts be made to stop a premature labour and why should these attempts be made?

Up to 34+0 weeks

Need to delay long enough to administer corticosteroids to the mother, which will boost fetal lung surfactant production and therefore reduce neonatal respiratory distress.


What corticosteroids can be given to mothers in cases of premature labour to increase fetal surfactant production?

Betamethasone or dexamethasone.

Two IM injections given 12-24 hours apart


What is the mortality rate of preterm babies?

42 in 1000 livebirths


What is the incidence of preterm labour in England and Wales?

7.6% but this figure is increasing


What are the risk factors for premature labour?

Previous preterm labour
BMI below below 19
Lack of social support
Afro-Caribbean ethnicity
Extremes of reproductive age (less than 20 or more than 35)
Domestic violence
Bacterial vaginosis
Chronic medical conditions


What are the main causes of preterm delivery?

Infection eg chorioamnionitis, maternal pyelonephritis

Uteroplacental ischaemia eg abruption

Uterine overdistension eg polyhydramnios, multiple pregnancy

Cervical incompetence

Fetal abnormality

Iatrogenic - because of threat to mother or babies life eg pre-eclampsia


What are the main pathogens implicated in preterm labour?

Sexually transmitted: Chlamydia, Trichomonas, Syphilis, Gonorrhea

Enteric organisms: E. coli, Strep fecalis

Bacterial vaginosis: Gardnerella, Mycoplasma and anaerobes

Group B streptococcus (would be very heavy growth)


What do we call palpable uterine contractions where the cervix remains closed?

Threatened preterm labour


What would you examine in a pregnant women who presents with symptoms consistent with preterm labour?

Abdominal tenderness
Uterine tenderness
Uterine tone
Uterine contractions
Fetal lie, presentation and engagement


What investigations should you do in a pregnant women who appears to be having preterm labour? Why?

Ultrasound - to check abnormal lie and presentation

Sonicaid - if 25+6 weeks of gestation or less to check fetal heart beat

Cardiotocograph - if 27 weeks of gestation or more to check fetal heart

Kit to check for presence of fetal fibronectin - the absence of this would indicate that delivery is less likely which may assist management decisions with regard to tocolysis

Urinalysis - check for UTI infection


What is the 11 point management checklist (including investigations) for a patient who presents with threatened preterm labour?

1. Assess for signs of precipitant - sepsis, polyhydramnios, abruption, pre-eclampsia

2. Take bloods and do urinalysis

3. Determine frequency and regularity of contractions

4. Perform sterile speculum to examine cervix (open or closed). Take high vaginal and endocervical swabs.

5. Start fetal heart monitoring

6. Ascertain fetal presentation (breech or cephalic) with ultrasound

7. Give corticosteroids

8. Give Abx if ruptured membrane or sepsis

9. Consider tocolysis

10. Contact paediatricians

11. Discuss mode of delivery.


What does tocolysis mean?

The administration of drugs to reduce uterine activity


What are the factors that determine whether tocolysis is necessary in a women is is going into preterm labour?

Cervical dilatation

The need to administer steroids and allow time for them to be effective

Need for in utero transfer (breech)


What are the different drugs that can be used as tocolytics, drugs that try and stop contractions in women who have gone into preterm labour? For each class give an example that is used.

Oxytocin receptor antagonists - atosiban

Calcium channel blockers - nifedipine (not licenced in the UK)

Beta agonists - salbutamol, ritodrine, terbutaline (IV)

NSAIDs (prostaglandin inhibitors) - indomethacin

Nitric oxide donors - GTN (transdermal patch)


What are the potential side effects of oxytocin receptor antagonists, used as tocolytics?

8% of women experience headaches


What are the potential side effects of calcium channel blockers such as nifedipine when used as tocolytics?



What are the potential side effects of beta agonists such as salbutamol when used as tocolytics?

Side effects are very common (80% of women):

Tachycardia (both mother and fetus)
Pulmonary oedema


What are the potential side effects of NSAIDs such as indomethacin when used as tocolytics?


Premature closure of ductus arteriosus
Reduced renal function causing oligohydramnios


What are the contraindications for the use of tocolytics?

Maternal illness that would be helped by delivery (eg pre-eclampsia)

Evidence of fetal distress

Chorioamnionitis - intra-amniotic infection

Significant vaginal bleeding, particularly if abruption is suspected

Already ruptured membranes


Should all women who go into preterm labour be given antibiotics?

Those women whose membrane has ruptured before term should have prophylactic erythromycin.

If membrane is intact, the mother should be screened for infection with vaginal and cervical swabs and blood cultures if pyrexial) and only given antibiotics if there are signs of infection.


What is cervical incompetence or insufficiency and why is it an issue in pregnancy?

This is when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during a pregnancy. It can causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth by allowing the membrane to prolapse and then rupture.


How can we treat cervical incompetence or insufficiency?

Cervical cerclage can be performed. This is the insertion of a suture into the cervix to reduce the prolapsed membrane.


How should preterm babies be delivered?

There is no evidence to suggest that caesarian section is any safer than vaginal birth in preterm babies.


What does PPROM stand for with regard to obstetrics?

Preterm prelabour rupture of membranes


What is the principal issue with preterm prelabour rupture of the membrane?

Sepsis of both the mother and the fetus.


How do you manage a patient with preterm prelabour rupture of the membrane?

Check fetal lie and presentation - risk of cord prolapse

Digital examination should not be done - unless there are obvious signs of labour - due to risk of infection introduction

Check for symptoms of clinical chorioamnionitis (fever, rigors, green or brown or foul smelling vaginal loss, tender uterus on palpation)


Blood tests

Administration of prophylactic erythromycin / treat sepsis

Administration of corticosteroids to improve fetal lung maturity


How long after preterm prelabour rupture of membrane will a women normally go into labour?

Within 72 hours


If a women whose membrane ruptures preterm and prelabour does not go into labour within 72 hours at what point is the target delivery date?

34+0 weeks

Either by induced labour or caesarian section.


What tocolytics are used in women with PPROM?

None. They are never used.