Previous studies have reported a nearly 6% increase in the risk of preterm birth for women treated for cervical diseases. That means that one in every 18 women is likely to give birth early after being treated for a cervical condition. New research published in the British Medical Journal claims just the opposite. In a study of more than 44,000 women, no increased risk of preterm birth was noted.

About 40,000 women undergo treatment for cervical disease each year. According to previously published studies, these women increase the risk of preterm birth after such treatment – but that’s not what new research suggests. With more than 500,000 women of child-bearing age who’ve received treatment currently living in the UK alone, a lot of worries can now be put to rest, according to researchers.

Cervical screening takes place in England every three to five years, for most women. If the screening results are questionable, further testing is done and treatment performed to combat any cervical disease or condition. One of the treatments most often used is LLETZ (large loop excision of the transformation zone). This treatment is one that concerned doctors and researchers most in terms of increasing preterm birth risk.

After reviewing more than 44,000 case studies of women who’d received treatment after abnormal screening results, including women treated with LLETZ, no increased risk of preterm birth was noted. Women who gave birth to twins or triplets were excluded from the study due to other pregnancy factors that increased the risk of preterm delivery.

It is suggested that lax regulations in cervical treatment procedures and protocol could be one cause for previous study findings. If quality assurance is lax and procedures are not being done correctly, damage could be done that result in preterm birth later in life. Repeated and/or extensive treatments were not part of this study, so there could be a correlation between these processes and increased risk of preterm birth.

Researchers hope the results of the study will encourage women to schedule cervical screenings. Early detection of cervical conditions, including cervical cancer, increases rates of cure and survival. Women should not be afraid of cervical screening simply because some studies have reported increased preterm birth rates.

Source: Alejandro Castanon, et al. BMJ. August 20, 2012.

Keyword Tags: