Study shows progesterone shots do not reduce preterm delivery in twin pregnancies

While 17P, a form of progesterone, has been shown to prevent premature delivery among about one-third of women who are pregnant with a single baby and who have experienced a prior preterm delivery, the latest research shows that 17P prescriptions can’t do the same for moms having twins.

“Twins are very high risk for preterm delivery, in fact, 60 percent of twins are born too soon. We can’t assume that what works for singleton pregnancies will work with multiples such as twins or triplets,” says Edward R. B. McCabe, MD, PhD, March of Dimes senior vice president and medical director. “This research finding is valuable because it will guide the care of women with a multi-fetal pregnancy, and highlights the need to better understand how to prevent preterm births for multiples.”

“We found that 17P was not effective in women with twin pregnancies and a short cervix (defined as less than 25 mm between 24 and 32 weeks),” says Philippe Deruelle, MD, with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Hôpital Jeanne de Flandre, Université Lille 2, France, and one of the study’s authors. “We actually seemed to have found an increase in the rate of preterm delivery before 32 weeks in the treatment group when compared to the non-treatment group.”

For the study, Dr. Deruelle and his colleagues conducted their trial on 165 women over the age of 18 at 10 university hospitals between June 2006 and January 2010. Outcome data was available for 161 of the 165 (97.6%) women. (The study’s title is Prevention of preterm delivery by 17 alpha-hydroxyprogesterone caproate in asymptomatic twin pregnancies with a short cervix: a randomized controlled trial, and was presented at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine’s 33rd annual meeting last week.)

Dr. Deruelle recommends that women who know they are pregnant with twins get an ultrasound to measure their cervical length, as this factor has shown to predict which women with twins are at higher risk for premature pregnancy.

Hopefully, future research will help to shed light on ways to prevent pretem births for women who are pregnant with multiples.

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