Premature babies - those born before the end of week 37 of pregnancy - have an increased risk of dying, and also suffer numerous complications and sequelae. To the point that premature birth is considered the leading cause of illness and death in neonates and, in the long term, can have serious consequences for the Health of these children, from learning disorders and hyperactivity, to respiratory problems or cerebral palsy.

In the last decade, numerous efforts have been made to try to avoid premature births, which are estimated to be around 13 million per year worldwide and which, only in the United States, imply a health cost of more than 26 billion dollars annually. Now, a group of researchers from the Vall d'Hebron hospital in Barcelona have tested a device - a cervical pessary- that, inserted during the first trimester of pregnancy, to those women who present a short cervix, significantly reduces the chances of having a preterm delivery.

Around 13 million premature babies are born every year around the world and, only in the US, this implies a health cost of more than 26 billion dollars per year

The short cervix is ​​a risk factor for prematurity. Therefore, 15,000 were chosen pregnant with this characteristic so that they could participate in the Preterm Preventive Delivery Project through a cervical pessary in pregnant women with decreased cervical length (PECEP). The authors of the trial, whose results have published The Lancet, found that pregnant women who carried pessaries were much less likely to give birth prematurely, something that happened to 6% of these women compared to 27% of those who did not carry the device.

The cervical pessary, as the authors of the study explain, is a simple device to put on and take off, inexpensive - its cost is 38 euros - and non-invasive. In addition, 95 percent of the women who used it declared themselves satisfied, and there were no relevant side effects. Although new studies are still needed for this device to be considered an effective treatment in women with cervical insufficiency, experts hope it can be used to reduce the incidence of premature births and associated complications.

Considerations and Strategies to Help Prevent Preterm Birth (November 2019).