Research: The Progress Study

Research: The Progress Study

Looking at progesterone after previous preterm birth for the prevention of neonatal respiratory distress syndrome.

Emma Parry, Lesley McCowan, researchers

Women with a history of spontaneous preterm labour are at an increased risk of preterm labour in subsequent pregnancies. Babies born preterm (at less than 37 weeks) are at risk of respiratory distress syndrome, which can cause illness and death. Babies that survive are at risk of chronic lung disease and long-term neurological disability.
The PROGRESS study aims to assess whether progesterone given to women at risk of giving birth preterm improves the health of mothers and their infants. 
Progesterone is a hormone produced during pregnancy, and is thought to be important in keeping the uterus relaxed and not contracting before labour starts at term. The onset of labour is thought to be related to a reduction in the amount or in the function of progesterone. 
Previous research has suggested that progesterone given to women at risk of preterm birth may help to reduce the chance of giving birth early. However, it is not clear whether progesterone also improves the health of the baby by reducing the risk and severity of respiratory distress syndrome.
Emma Parry and Lesley McCowan are leading the New Zealand component of the PROGRESS Study, which is also being undertaken in Australia.


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