OBJECTIVE: We sought to describe the prevalence of serious maternal complications following early preterm birth by gestational age (GA), delivery route, and type of cesarean incision.
STUDY DESIGN: Trained personnel abstracted data from maternal and neonatal charts for all deliveries on randomly selected days representing one third of deliveries across 25 US hospitals over 3 years (n = 115,502). All women delivering nonanomalous singletons between 23-33 weeks' gestation were included. Women were excluded for antepartum stillbirth and highly morbid conditions for which route of delivery would not likely impact morbidity including nonreassuring fetal status, cord prolapse, placenta previa, placenta accreta, placental abruption, and severe and unstable maternal conditions (cardiopulmonary collapse, acute respiratory distress syndrome, seizures). Serious maternal complications were defined as: hemorrhage (blood loss ≥1500 mL, blood transfusion, or hysterectomy for hemorrhage), infection (endometritis, wound dehiscence, or wound infection requiring antibiotics, reopening, or unexpected procedure), intensive care unit admission, or death. Delivery route was categorized as classic cesarean delivery (CCD), low transverse cesarean delivery (LTCD), low vertical cesarean delivery (LVCD), and vaginal delivery. Association of delivery route with complications was estimated using multivariable regression models yielding adjusted relative risks (aRR) controlling for maternal age, race, body mass index, hypertension, diabetes, preterm premature rupture of membranes, preterm labor, GA, and hospital of delivery.
RESULTS: Of 2659 women who met criteria for inclusion in this analysis, 8.6% of women experienced serious maternal complications. Complications were associated with GA and were highest between 23-27 weeks of gestation. The frequency of complications was associated with delivery route; compared with 3.5% of vaginal delivery, 23.0% of CCD (aRR, 3.54; 95% confidence interval (CI), 2.29-5.48), 12.1% of LTCD (aRR, 2.59; 95% CI, 1.77-3.77), and 10.3% of LVCD (aRR, 2.27; 95% CI, 0.68-7.55) experienced complications. There was no significant difference in complication rates between CCD and LTCD (aRR, 1.37; 95% CI, 0.95-1.97) or between CCD and LVCD (aRR, 1.56; 95% CI, 0.48-5.07).
CONCLUSION: The risk of maternal complications after early preterm delivery is substantial, particularly in women who undergo cesarean delivery. Obstetricians need to be prepared to manage potential hemorrhage, infection, and intensive care unit admission for early preterm births requiring cesarean delivery.
- classic cesarean delivery
- early preterm delivery
- intensive care unit admission
- maternal morbidity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology