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A 51-year-old member asked:

What causes premature birth?

4 doctor answers12 doctors weighed in
Dr. Dennis Higginbotham
American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology 30 years experience
No one thing: In America about 12% of women deliver prematurely (before 37 weeks). Sometimes there is an obvious reason like infection, abruption, premature membrane rupture, trauma, history of premature delivery, multiple gestation (twins, triplets), etc. However, the majority of preterm deliveries do not have an obvious cause, and we never know why.
Dr. Hassan Harirah
Maternal-Fetal Medicine 38 years experience
Many causes that can preterm labor/birth.
Jan 30, 2012
Dr. Pam Yoder
Specializes in Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Many possible causes: Premature labour can occur in any pregnancy, not just in ones with known "risk factors". The actual cause or event that starts the contractions is unknown often. If there is an infection, a big uterus stretched by multiple or big babies, bleeding, etc., we might assume that was the cause, but typically it is impossible to prove what actually caused labour. An evaluation after delivery can help.
Dr. Nikolaos Zacharias
Maternal-Fetal Medicine 26 years experience
A spectrum of causes: Spontaneous preterm birth risk factors: maternal race/ethnicity (african-americans have the highest risk), maternal anxiety/depression, social stressors, prior preterm birth, surgery of the cervix, genital infections, bladder infections (the number one cause of preventable preterm birth in usa), multifetal pregnancies (twins etc.), poorly working placenta, genetic predisposition, unknown causes!
Dr. Emanuele Maccalli
Pediatrics 7 years experience
Multiple causes can: There are many causes for preterm and premature births. In the united states these include being pregnant with twins or multiples, smoking, drug use and a short spacing between pregnancies (less than 18 months). Below is the CDC's website with more information. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/features/premature-birth/index.html

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