Big News In Preemie Prevention

Amy Keyishian
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Me and Penny the preemieMy first child was born 10 weeks premature, so when I got pregnant again, I was considered high-risk and qualified for weekly injections of a progesterone-based hormone called 17P. I credit this with keeping Abby uptight and outta sight until within a week of her due date – but it looks like there’s an easier way to stave off early labor.

A new study finds that daily application of a similar gel called Prochieve – a suppository, not a shot! – seems to be as effective in preventing preterm labor. Repeat: Not! A! Shot!

My first stop for more information about these studies was KeepEmCookin, a website started by Angela Davids as a clearinghouse for information and community for bed-rest moms. This wasn’t news to her. “There hasn’t been a gel v. injection study published yet, so we can't compare apples to apples,” she says. “In practice, OBs have prescribed whichever one the patient’s insurance would cover.” But since preventing preterm birth was an off-label use, that was probably more often the less convenient 17P.

In separate studies, a 34 percent decrease in premature births was found with 17P injections v. a placebo, and a 45 percent decrease with the new gel. So, again, we can’t absolutely say that the gel is better, but both treatments seem to be extremely effective in preventing preemies. Besides saving us individually a lot of stress and heartbreak, this would “save the nation’s health system $12 million a year,” according to the New York Times.

That’s great news for would-be moms with short cervixes, or ones who enter into their second pregnancies full of fear after having a traumatic NICU experience. If you’re heading to your doctor’s office and you don’t know what to ask for, print out the article and take it with you. Let’s keep those babies snug as a bug in a rug for as long as we can, ladies!

Have you used progesterone gel? How about 17P? Are you worried about having a preemie or a high-risk pregnancy? Tell us in the comments!

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