In 2012, a multicenter study discovered that a pessary will prevent premature births. This study is exciting to me, and here is why. If you can stop a premature birth from happening with a simple device called a pessary you can avoid a long course in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) or hospital for your baby.
I have delivered many babies before their due date. Most did fine with the help of our great NICUs in the area. But, occasionally a baby has a long battle with complications requiring a lengthy stay in the NICU. On average every day before 37 weeks that a baby is born will increase their stay in the hospital by 3 days.
This new study has just discovered that women who are at a high risk of premature birth can have their physicians fit them for a commonly used device called a pessary. A pessary is a small silicon ring that is placed in the vagina to support the uterus. The study demonstrated that the pessary decreased the rate of premature births.
For the study which was undertaken, a group of 385 women were divided into 2 groups at five Spanish hospitals. All of the women were at a high risk of premature labor, demonstrated by a shortening of the cervical length. The results showed that the women who used a pessary to support their uterus, only had a 6% premature birth rate, compared with 27% of the women who did not use a pessary.
The exact reason as to why pessary delays pre-mature births continue to be unclear. The Lancet, in an editorial, said that the study has raised the “exciting and novel possibility” that pelvic organs load bearing capacities are important in starting labor.
The use of a pessary to prevent premature birth in women with a shorten cervical length may be an effective, inexpensive, and easy to use, but currently the pessary is not recommended instead of a cerclage or progestogens until the study has be confirmed.