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 Prematurity Program

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Prematurity Program is for women with a history of one or more babies born between 16 and 36 weeks of pregnancy after premature cervical shortening or dilation, labor, or ruptured membranes. We also see women with other risk factors for preterm birth such as short cervix, a history of cervical surgery, or uterine abnormalities.
 
Babies born too early may have serious health problems, such as brain damage, asthma, vision or feeding difficulties, jaundice and intestinal complications. To avoid another preterm birth, our multidisciplinary team will monitor you closely in subsequent pregnancies. We encourage early access to prematurity-focused prenatal care so that we can make recommendations designed to help you carry your baby to full term.

Our Prematurity Program Patients

Preterm birth can happen to anybody and the symptoms that precede premature birth are often very mild, so most women are taken by surprise when they deliver preterm. Women who have delivered preterm are always considered high-risk in future pregnancies, but each woman’s story is unique. You will receive personalized, comprehensive and knowledgeable attention from our team of maternal fetal medicine physicians and specialized nurses, from as early as 10 weeks into your pregnancy.
 
Many of our patients are referred by their primary OB/GYNs and clinics in central and southeast Ohio. Some come from as far as West Virginia, Kentucky and Michigan. We also accept self-referrals.
 
Women participating in Ohio State’s Prematurity Program will:
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of preterm labor
  • Learn about individual choices that may decrease their risk of preterm birth
  • Learn about complications associated with a preterm baby
  • Learn about lifestyle changes important to a healthy pregnancy
  • Learn about the latest prematurity research
  • Gain support from women with similar concerns
As co-managed patients “graduate” from our program between 32 and 34 weeks of pregnancy, your primary OB/GYN will also continue to see you, and will receive regular reports of all our findings, treatments and recommendations.

Why Choose The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s Prematurity Program?

In place since 1982, Ohio State’s Prematurity Program cares for approximately 250 women a year. Patients are cared for by high-risk Maternal Fetal Medicine doctors who have special interests in preterm birth prevention. You will be seen by a physician every one to two weeks (more often if the need arises), and your care is coordinated by two dedicated specialty nurses. Our program is recognized nationwide for its high level of patient interaction, research and community outreach.
 
Dedicated Nurses – Two specialized nurses are dedicated to the care of patients in our Prematurity Program. They are readily available to answer questions and concerns in person or by phone in a timely manner. We find that the relationship between our nurses and expectant mothers has a positive effect on patient outcomes. All program participants are seen at each visit by their specialty nurse, who makes follow-up phone calls and advises patients as needed.
 
Research – Our specialists have advanced the nation’s obstetrical care practices through innovations such as the identification of two clinically useful risk markers for premature birth (cervical length and fetal fibronectin) and preventive treatment with progesterone and cervical cerclage. We offer multiple opportunities for patients to participate in prematurity-related research projects. Please ask your doctor or nurse about current projects.
 
Outreach – Because the focus of our work is to reduce the number of preterm births, we provide outreach education for clinics, hospitals, physicians and nurses throughout Ohio, supported by grants from The March of Dimes, the Ohio Department of Health, and the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We are leading participants in the Ohio Better Birth Outcomes (OBBO) program, an initiative sponsored by Franklin County, the Columbus Public Health Department, and local community organizations to reduce preterm birth and infant mortality in Central Ohio. All Columbus hospitals and prenatal clinics are working together in OBBO to translate the latest research into improved outcomes for high-risk pregnant women and their children.

Our Prematurity Program Services

The Prematurity Program team offers a variety of patient services personalized to meet your unique needs, including:
 
Comprehensive Prenatal Care – Ohio State’s Maternal Fetal Medicine team has nearly 30 years of experience both developing and administering maternal and fetal screenings and diagnostic procedures. Our renowned perinatal specialists (many of whom are editors and contributors to leading academic textbooks in obstetrics and gynecology), specially trained and certified sonographers, genetic counselors and skilled nurse educators are experts in the field of high-risk pregnancy. Because all of these physicians are located in the same office, we can minimize the number of trips a patient needs to make to receive their care.
 
Education – During the first visit, our patients receive extensive education about preterm labor symptoms, pregnancy wellness, our medical management plan, testing, activity levels, surgery and medications. There are two highly accessible, specialized nurses dedicated to your care, offering advice about prematurity symptoms and their management. An on-site Registered Dietician advises and follows all patients throughout their pregnancy. Further education and support includes:
  • Pre-pregnancy counseling
  • Education regarding safe spacing of pregnancies
  • Birth control choices
  • Beastfeeding
  • Health and healthy lifestyle programs
  • On-site smoking cessation education by a certified smoking cessation counselor and contact with the Ohio Tobacco Quit Line
  • Social services
  • Group support
  • Financial counseling
  • Pastoral care
Ultrasound – Many women with risk factors for preterm birth have a short cervix, the strongest marker of risk. We will monitor your cervical length regularly using transvaginal ultrasound. Ohio State has been a national leader in the use of this technology since 1988.
 
Fetal Fibronectin Monitoring – A protein produced during pregnancy, fetal fibronectin acts as a glue to secure the placenta to your uterine lining. We often perform this test around 24-26 weeks of pregnancy to assess your level of risk.
 
Progesterone Therapy – Progesterone is a hormone that a woman’s body makes naturally during pregnancy. Extra progesterone delivered by injection or vaginal suppository has been shown to reduce the chance of a preterm birth in up to 40 percent of women who have previously delivered a premature baby. Our program initiates progesterone therapy early as a course of treatment for our patients.
 
Cerclage – For a woman whose cervix is shortened despite progesterone therapy or whose fetal membranes are visible, cervical cerclage may be helpful. This technique involves stitching the cervix closed during pregnancy to prevent changes that may contribute to premature labor and delivery.

Our Prematurity Program Experts

Our Prematurity Program Locations

On Fridays, Dr. Iams conducts a Prematurity Program Clinic at Ohio State Maternal Fetal Medicine’s main office (Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza) with program nurse coordinators Hetty Walker, RNC, CCRC (primary contact for the Friday Prematurity Clinic) and Tammy Johnson, RN, who are dedicated solely to this select group of patients. For more information, please contact 614-293-8949.
 
On Tuesdays, Drs. Iams and James conduct a Prematurity Program Clinic at Ohio State’s University Hospital East with program nurse coordinator Tammy Johnson, RN (primary contact for the Tuesday Prematurity Clinic). For more information about attending our Tuesday clinic, please contact 614-288-8607.
 
2050 Kenny Road, Tower Building Sixth Floor
Columbus, OH 43221
(614) 293-8949

Ohio State's University Hospital East
1492 E. Broad St.
Columbus, OH 43205
(614) 288-8607
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