Preterm labor assessment toolkit
Recent studies prove that babies born 39-40 weeks gestational age experience better outcomes than infants born even a few weeks early. As a leader in maternal and child health, March of Dimes is committed to improving perinatal outcomes and reducing preterm deliveries.
According to substantial evidence in the literature, there continues to be wide variation in the practices used to assess pregnant women presenting with symptoms of preterm labor. Together with our co-authors, the March of Dimes has spearheaded the development of a Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit to help medical providers establish a standardized clinical pathway for the assessment and disposition of women with suspected preterm labor. Better identification of women in preterm labor will not only provide timely and appropriate interventions; it will also promote effective management to improve neonatal outcomes.
I invite you to review this newly revised evidence-based resource that can be implemented at all levels of maternity care. This edition incorporates advances in research and best practices and outlines a step-by-step guide to standardized assessment. The toolkit is not intended to dictate practice. Instead, we urge you to examine how patients in suspected preterm labor are currently being assessed and triaged to understand how this toolkit can support improvement.
The March of Dimes Preterm Labor Assessment Toolkit is divided into the following sections to help streamline access to the information most relevant to each hospital.
- Overview; preterm labor assessment and clinical disposition of patients.
- Algorithm, Protocol and Order Set
- Recommendation for Data Collection
- Implementation Guidelines
- Patient Education and Home Care Instructions
- Appendices – including case studies, areas of evolving care, implementation PowerPoint presentation
A free copy of the toolkit can be downloaded at prematurityprevention.org. Registration is required. We hope this proves to be a useful educational resource.
Jennifer L. Howse
March of Dimes President
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the March of Dimes provide information about birth defects?
Yes. The March of Dimes produces fact sheets on several birth defects, including autism, chromosomal abnormalities, cleft lip, congenital heart defects and Down syndrome. Simply type the name of the birth defect into the search box.
What happens during a preconception checkup?
A preconception checkup can help assure that a woman is as healthy as possible before she conceives. Her provider can identify and often treat health conditions that can pose a risk in pregnancy, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or certain infections. During the visit, the woman can learn about nutrition, weight, smoking, drinking alcohol and occupational exposures that can pose pregnancy risks. The provider also can make sure a woman’s vaccinations are up to date and that any medications she takes are safe during pregnancy. The woman and her provider can discuss her health history and that of her partner and family. If the woman or her partner has a history of birth defects or preterm birth or if either has a high risk for a genetic disorder based on family history, ethnic background or age, the provider may suggest seeing a genetic counselor.
What is a birth defect?
A birth defect is an abnormality of structure, function or metabolism (body chemistry) present at birth that results in physical or intellectual disabilities or death. Thousands of different birth defects have been identified. Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life.
See also: Common birth defects
What newborn screening tests does the March of Dimes recommend?
The March of Dimes would like to see all babies in all states screened for at least 31 health conditions. Many of these health conditions can be treated if found early.
All states require newborn screening for at least 26 health conditions. Some states require screening for additional conditions – some up to 50 or more. For more information, read our article on newborn screening.