Prematurity Program helps women avoid repeated preterm birth

Prematurity Program helps women avoid repeated preterm birth

Carrying your baby to full term is not just your goal, it’s ours, too. Babies born too early may have serious health problems, such as brain damage, asthma, vision or feeding difficulties, jaundice and intestinal complications. The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Prematurity Program helps women with a history of preterm birth avoid another.

Our program is recognized nationwide for its high level of patient interaction, research and community outreach. Here, you’ll receive personalized, comprehensive and knowledgeable attention from our team of maternal fetal medicine physicians and specialized nurses, from as early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy.

Our Services

Comprehensive prenatal care

Renowned perinatal specialists (many of whom are editors and contributors to leading academic textbooks in obstetrics and gynecology), specially trained and certified sonographers, genetic counselors and skilled nurse educators are experts in the field of high-risk pregnancy. Because all of these physicians are located in the same office, we can minimize the number of trips you need to make to receive care.


You receive extensive education and support starting with your first visit. You’ll learn more about preterm labor symptoms, pregnancy wellness, diet, our medical management plan, testing, activity levels, surgery and medications, counseling and these topics:

  • Birth control choices
  • Breastfeeding
  • Financial counseling
  • Group support
  • Health and healthy lifestyle
  • Pastoral care
  • Pre-pregnancy
  • Safe spacing of pregnancies
  • Smoking cessation
  • Social services

Ultrasound cervical length screening

You’ll undergo monitoring of your cervical length using transvaginal ultrasound. Since a short cervix is a risk factor for preterm birth, this screening is recommended for all pregnant women at 18 to 22 gestational weeks. Ohio State has been a national leader in the use of this technology since 1988.

Fetal fibronectin monitoring

This swab test is performed at 24-26 weeks of pregnancy to assess the risk of preterm labor based on fetal fibronectin levels, which is the “glue” that secures the placenta to the uterine lining.

Progesterone therapy

You may receive an early course of this treatment delivered by injection or vaginal suppository. This therapy is shown to help reduce the chance of a preterm birth in up to 40 percent of women who previously delivered a premature baby.


If your cervix is shortened despite progesterone therapy or your fetal membranes are visible, this surgical technique can help prevent changes that may contribute to premature labor and delivery.

Why Choose Ohio State?

When you participate in Ohio State’s Prematurity Program, you’re cared for by high-risk Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors and dedicated nurses who have special interest in preterm birth prevention.

  • A physician will see you every one-two weeks (more often, if necessary).
  • Two specialized nurses are dedicated to your care and readily available to answer your questions and address your concerns — a relationship we find to have a positive effect on outcomes.
  • Our specialists’ innovations (including identifying markers for premature birth and preventive treatment with progesterone and cervical cerclage) are helping advance obstetrical care practices nationwide, including offering multiple opportunities for participation in prematurity-related research projects.
  • Reducing the number of preterm births is a major focus for us, so we provide outreach education for clinics, hospitals, physicians and nurses throughout Ohio, supported by grants from The March of Dimes, the Ohio Department of Health, and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • We are leading participants in the Ohio Better Birth Outcomes (OBBO) program, an initiative sponsored by Franklin County, the Columbus Public Health Department, and local community organizations to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality in central Ohio. All Columbus hospitals and prenatal clinics are working together in OBBO to translate the latest research into improved outcomes for high-risk pregnant women and their children.

Our Patients

We care for women who have had one or more babies born at 16-36 weeks of pregnancy after premature cervical shortening or dilation, labor or ruptured membranes. We also see women with other risk factors for preterm birth, such as short cervix, a history of cervical surgery or uterine abnormalities.

Because preterm birth can happen to anybody — and the symptoms preceding it can be mild — most women are surprised when they deliver preterm. When you participate in Ohio State's Prematurity Program, you’ll not only receive care from the experts and get support from women just like you, you’ll learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor, ways to decrease your risk of preterm birth, lifestyle changes for a healthy pregnancy, and much more until you “graduate” at 32-34 weeks or pregnancy.

In addition to accepting self-referrals, many primary Ob/Gyns and clinics in central and southeast Ohio refer their pregnant patients to us, while others come from as far as West Virginia, Kentucky and Florida. Together, our team works with you and your primary Ob/Gyn, who continues to see you while receiving regular reports of our findings, treatments and recommendations for you.

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