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Endometriosis Doubles Risk Of Premature Birth

Medical News Today,  Feb 8, 2009

New research published this week reveals that the common gynecological disease, endometriosis, doubles the risk of premature birth. Endometriosis affects more than two million women in the UK1, while 60,000 babies are admitted to NHS premature baby units a year in England.

The comparative study, led by Professor David Healy of Monash University, Australia was funded by medical research charity, the Bupa Foundation. Professor Healy studied 6,750births, including those from In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) programmes, to find that regardless of IVF treatment, women with endometriosis are twice as likely to have a premature birth. Critically, the research can now be used to identify pregnant women with endometriosis, who are at increased risk of premature labour and premature birth, through the use of ultrasound in the early stages of pregnancy.

Professor Healy commented: "This research is important for all pregnant women and is the first time that endometriosis has been so clearly associated with premature birth. Obstetricians will now be able to more readily identify and monitor mothers-to-be who are at increased risk of premature labour and premature birth. The key will be early diagnosis, especially as up to 44 percent of women show no symptoms of endometriosis."

Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen, vice-chairman of the Bupa Foundation, which provided a grant of £170,000 to Professor Healy and his team, added: "This research will help to drive new gynaecological practice to significantly improve patient safety and will help thousands of women to have as safe a birth as possible."

The full findings from the Professor Healy's study are published today in the international medical journal, Fertility and Sterility. Health advice and information on endometriosis is available at:


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