Progesterone Gel Reduces Rate of Preterm Birth in at Risk Women


Why use pricey progesterone injections when you can use progesterone gel?

Pregnant women who can’t afford to spend $25,000 on progesterone injections to prevent preterm birth now have a good study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Columbia Laboratories showing that using progesterone gel reduced preterm birth in at risk women by nearly half. The infants born to women using progesterone gel were also less likely to develop a breathing complication called respiratory distress syndrome.

Columbia Laboratories recently sold the rights to its line of progesterone gel products such as Crinone® to Watson Pharmaceuticals. Crinone is a progesterone gel used to prevent miscarriage. The progesterone gel used in the preterm birth study is a Watson product named PROCHIEVE®.

progesterone_gel_preterm_birth“Our study demonstrates that progesterone gel reduces the rate of early preterm delivery—less than 33 weeks— in women with a short cervix,” said Roberto Romero, M.D., program head for Perinatology Research and Obstetrics and chief of the Perinatology Research Branch. “Women with a short cervix can be identified through routine ultrasound screening. Once identified, they could be offered treatment with progesterone.”

Dr. Romero explained that progesterone is a naturally occurring hormone which is essential to maintain pregnancy and that a short cervix is thought to be a sign of a possible shortage of progesterone.

In the study, published online in the journal Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 458 women with a short cervix, which put them at risk for preterm birth, were randomly assigned to receive either a vaginal gel progesterone preparation or a placebo between the 19th and 23rd week of pregnancy. While 16% of the women in the placebo group had preterm births, only 8.9% of the women using the progesterone gel had preterm births.

Reference and Sources

Romero et al. Vaginal progesterone reduces the rate of preterm birth in women with a sonographic short cervix: a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology; Published Online: April 6, 2011.

Wiley Press Release

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