Cervical Procedure May Double Risk of Preterm Birth

Loop electrosurgical excision of the cervix raises odds of spontaneous early delivery

THURSDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Women who undergo loop electrosurgical excision of the cervix, a procedure widely used for the treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, face a doubled risk of spontaneous singleton preterm delivery, according to a study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Bugge Noehr, M.D., of the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen, and colleagues analyzed data on 552,678 singleton deliveries in Denmark from 1997 to 2005, and also collected information on different cervical procedures the mothers had previously undergone.

Of the deliveries to women who had not had loop electrosurgical excision of the cervix, 3.5 percent were preterm, but when the researchers applied this data to the 6.9 percent of preterm deliveries that were subsequent to the surgical procedure, they found that the procedure doubled the odds of preterm delivery. The findings held, even after adjusting for potential risk factors for preterm birth, the researchers discovered.

"Whether this increase is due to the treatment or to the cervical intraepithelial neoplasia itself or to other unknown characteristics of the women is unknown," the authors conclude. "We did, however, show that the significant increase in risk for preterm delivery was still present when we included only women who delivered both before and after loop electrosurgical excision, thus minimizing the potential effect of unknown inherent risk factors."

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