Addressing Decision Making in Progesterone Treatment for History of Preterm Delivery
24 February 2019
25 February 2019
20 August 2019 (online)
Introduction The United States ranks 27th among nations worldwide for infant mortality with a rate of 6.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. The majority of perinatal morbidity and mortality is related to preterm birth, defined as delivery prior to 37 weeks' gestation. Among the risk factors for preterm birth is prior preterm birth, which is associated with a 1.5- to 2.0-fold increase in risk. At the present time, there is only one Food and Drug Administration approved treatment for the prevention of preterm birth among women with a history of prior spontaneous premature delivery, intramuscular 17-α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-OHP), administered once weekly from 20 to 36 weeks' gestation. However, many eligible pregnant patients decline this therapy.
Methods This was a prospective, cohort study involving patients who were identified as candidates for 17-OHP treatment at their first obstetric visit and asked to complete a short survey regarding their history of preterm birth. Those patients who consented to a follow-up phone call were asked to participate in a focus group discussion regarding their experience with progesterone and the health care system.
Results During the 1-year study period, 55 progesterone candidates were identified, 43 accepted treatment, 7 refused, and 5 either initiated prenatal care too late to receive injections or did not follow-up. Those who accepted treatment appeared to cope better with treatment side effects, and/or had traumatic emotional reactions regarding their prior premature birth outcomes. Women who declined treatment often cited pain with injection, had fatalistic beliefs regarding their care, and/or had personal concerns related to full-term pregnancy.
Discussion Maternal health care providers should always discuss the implications of prematurity at the time of the index premature delivery and again at the first prenatal visit of the subsequent pregnancy. Providers need to be prepared to employ various techniques for patient counseling and education. Small changes in office practice, like having fewer care providers involved in patient care or providing distractions for children, may make the difference between a patient who is open or closed to treatment options.
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