8 Common Causes for Preterm Birth You Should Know

Common Causes of Premature Birth

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Sanjana Sainani (Gynecologist/Obstetrician)
View more Gynecologist/Obstetrician Our Panel of Experts

As soon as you become pregnant, all you can dream of is holding and cuddling your little bundle of joy. In some cases, your baby may arrive early or you may have a preterm baby. Therefore, if your baby is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, then he is called a preemie. In case a baby is born before 23rd week of pregnancy, he may not able to survive outside the mother’s womb but a premature baby who is born after the 28th week of pregnancy has a 90 per cent survival rate. Now, the question here is what causes babies to arrive early or in other words, what may cause premature birth. There are many reasons or causes of preterm labour. In the following article, we shall discuss various common causes of premature birth.

What Are the Common Reasons for Premature Delivery?

Deliveries which happen three weeks prior to the date of birth of the baby are called premature deliveries, and it is observed that babies who are born early may have some medical complications. The complications may vary, which means the earlier the baby is born, the higher the risk of complications. We shall discuss some common causes of preterm birth in the following paragraphs:

1. Prenatal Disorders

There are some pregnancy-related problems or prenatal disorders that may become causes of preterm labour such as:

  • Cervical and Uterine Abnormalities

Sometimes, due to the abnormal shape of the uterus or, in some cases, if the cervix may open up soon before the labour, the contractions may begin early. This may result in the premature birth of your baby.

  • Preeclampsia

This condition may cause high blood pressure and protein in the urine during pregnancy. In the absence of proper treatment, preeclampsia may cause preterm deliveries.

  • HELLP Syndrome

This is a very rare but life-threatening disorder that comprises three conditions. Where H stands for Haemolysis or breaking of red blood cells, EL stands of elevated liver enzymes, and LP stands for low levels of platelets. Together all these conditions may cause premature delivery.

  • Infections of the Genitals

Infections such as bacterial vaginosis and other such infections of the genitals may increase the chances of preterm deliveries.

Pregnant woman admitted in hospital due to complications

2. Pregnancy History

Your pregnancy history may cause preterm labour too. Some of these conditions may include:

  • Miscarriage

If you have had a miscarriage in your previous pregnancy, then there are chances that you may have a premature delivery, and the risk may increase in case the miscarriage happened late in the pregnancy.

  • Abortion

In case you had opted for abortion there are risks of having a preterm delivery and the risk may become prominent, in case you become pregnant within six months after getting an abortion.

  • Previous Preterm Delivery

If your previous delivery was a preterm delivery, then it is quite likely that the present delivery may be preterm too. It may also increase your chances of having a low birth baby or it may cause the death of the baby.

3. Pregnant With Twins or Multiples

If you are carrying twins or multiple babies, then your chances of going into preterm labour increases. It is also observed that approximately 60 per cent of the twin babies and 90 per cent of triplets are usually born preterm. Where the single baby is born approximately at around 39 weeks, twins are born at around 36 weeks, triplets at around 32 weeks and quadruplets are born at around 30 weeks. In case you are carrying more than one baby, your health may be closely monitored by your doctor because with an additional baby or babies, your pregnancy duration may reduce.

Pregnant with Twins

4. Family History of Having Preemies

Family history and genetics also play an important role in deciding whether or not you may deliver a preterm baby. If there is a history of preterm deliveries in the family, which may include preemie siblings or if you were a preemie yourself, then it may affect your delivery too.

5. Age Factor

Another factor that may affect your chances of having a preterm delivery is the age. In case you are a teen mother and you are less than 17 years of age, there are high chances of preterm deliveries and the risk is more pronounced in the case of a second delivery. However, girls delivering in their late teens are at a lesser risk of having a premature delivery than the girls delivering in their early teens. Also, if you are 35 years or above, then there are chances that you may have a preemie baby. The risk may increase as you cross 40 years of age. If you have diabetes or hypertension, then your chances of preterm labour increase too

6. Stress During Pregnancy

Stress is not good for our body, and the same holds true during pregnancy too. When you are under stress during pregnancy, your body releases cortisol and epinephrine, these, in turn, help in releasing the corticotrophin hormone. Corticotrophin increases estriol and prostaglandins levels in the body. This all may make your body undergo preterm labour. Therefore, it is not only important for a would-be-mother to take charge of her physical wellbeing but it is equally important for her to take care of her mental health too.

Pregnant woman in stress

7. Small Gap Between Pregnancies

Pregnancy makes your body undergo a lot of changes. It makes your body lose nutrients, and breastfeeding further drains your body too. It is very important for the body to recover and recoup in case you are planning to have another baby, which means the body needs to prepare itself fully before it is ready for another delivery. If you conceive too soon after your previous delivery, your body may not be ready to support a baby. This is also because the reproductive system may not be ready to support the new baby and, thus, may result in preterm labour. If you are considering getting pregnant again, it is advised to at least wait for a year and a half (18 months) before you try and get pregnant again.

8. Drinking Alcohol and Smoking

When you become pregnant, you are expected to make various lifestyle changes to support a healthy pregnancy, and excluding alcohol and smoking from your lifestyle is one such change that you will be required to make. Consumption of alcohol and smoking causes premature birth, and it may also lead to various other complications in your pregnancy or baby, such as low birth in babies, placental complications and even death of the baby in some cases. Not only active smoking but passive smoking is also dangerous during pregnancy.

Here are some of the causes that may increase your chances of preterm labour. Preterm labour or delivery may happen due to many reasons. Whatever be the cause, going into preterm labour may cause complications at times. If you are pregnant and are at risk of going into preterm labour, talk to your doctor about your risks. Your doctor may also keep monitoring your health closely. With proper medical care and assistance, most preterm complications can be taken care of.

Also Read: Tips to Avoid Premature Labour

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