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Int J Womens Health. 2010 Aug 9;1:73-84.

The role of progesterone in prevention of preterm birth.

Author information

1
Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.

Abstract

Preterm birth continues to provide an enormous challenge in the delivery of perinatal health care, and is associated with considerable short and long-term health consequences for surviving infants. Progesterone has a role in maintaining pregnancy, by suppression of the calcium-calmodulin-myosin light chain kinase system. Additionally, progesterone has recognized anti-inflammatory properties, raising a possible link between inflammatory processes, alterations in progesterone receptor expression and the onset of preterm labor. Systematic reviews of randomized controlled trials evaluating the use of intramuscular and vaginal progesterone in women considered to be at increased risk of preterm birth have been published, with primary outcomes of perinatal death, preterm birth <34 weeks, and neurodevelopmental handicap in childhood. Eleven randomized controlled trials were included in the systematic review, involving 2714 women and 3452 infants, with results presented according to the reason women were considered to be at increased risk of preterm birth. While there is a potential beneficial effect in the use of progesterone for some women considered to be at increased risk of preterm birth, primarily in the reduction in the risk of preterm birth before 34 weeks gestation, it remains unclear if the observed prolongation of pregnancy translates into improved health outcomes for the infant.

KEYWORDS:

preterm birth; progesterone; randomized trial; systematic review

PMID:
21072277
PMCID:
PMC2971700

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