What Are My Chances of Having a Preemie?

Doctors can determine your risk—or chance—of having a second preterm birth by getting a thorough history and review of your past pregnancies.

In fact, doctors have identified many risk factors for preterm birth. For preterm birth, a risk factor is anything that increases your chances of giving birth to a preemie.

Previous Preterm Births

The biggest risk factor for giving birth to a preemie is having a previous preterm birth. This means that if you’ve given birth to a preemie in the past, you have a much higher chance of giving birth to a preemie again.

For women who’ve had one preemie, their chance of giving birth to another preemie is approximately 35–40 percent. 

Other risk factors for having a preemie include:

  • giving birth to twins or triplets,
  • having fetal abnormalities (medical problems in a fetus) that can cause excess amniotic fluid,
  • having uterine problems (such as your uterus or cervix having an abnormal shape),
  • having vaginal bleeding during your pregnancy,
  • and experiencing premature rupture of your membranes.

A woman’s chances of having another preemie also depend on:

  • How early the preterm birth(s) happened (earlier births = higher risk).
  • The number of preterm births (more preterm births = higher risk).
  • How long it has been since the last preterm birth (shorter time = higher risk).

Does Preterm Birth Run in Families?

Many studies suggest that preterm birth does run in families. Women who were born early themselves have a higher chance of delivering their own infants too.

Recent data has also shown that sisters and female cousins of women who have given birth to preemies have a higher chance of having a preterm birth. 

If you or a member of your family has given birth to a preemie, please contact our clinic so we can assess your own chance of having a preterm birth.

During Your Appointment: Estimating Your Chances of Having a Preemie

During your first visit at the Utah Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic, you will meet with a maternal-fetal medicine specialist who will ask you for a detailed history of your past births and will also review your medical records. Using this information, our specialists will estimate your chance of having a second preterm birth.

Is There Any Research Focusing on Women With a Higher Chance For Preterm Birth?

The Utah Preterm Birth Prevention Clinic is staffed by researchers, doctors, and clinicians at University of Utah Health Care and Intermountain Health Care. 

Both the University of Utah and Intermountain Health Care have a long history of participating in clinical trials that have made landmark research discoveries about preterm birth. 

Our physicians also participate in multi-center trials that are designed and funded by the National Institute of Health. These include the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network trials as well as a trial designed by the Genomic and Proteomic Network for Preterm Birth Research. 

When you are being evaluated in our clinic, we will offer you the opportunity to participate in leading-edge research designed to identify the causes of preterm birth and the best treatments for women who are at risk.

Preterm Labor & Birth Specialist