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Before a baby is born, the amniotic sac breaks open, causing amniotic fluid to gush out or, less commonly, to slowly leak. When this happens before contractions start, it is called premature rupture of membranes (PROM). PROM can occur at any time during pregnancy.
When PROM occurs before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy, it usually leads to preterm labor. You may hear this early PROM referred to as preterm premature rupture of membranes, or pPROM.
PROM is often unexpected, and the cause is often hard to identify. Known causes of PROM include:
Preterm labor usually begins shortly after pPROM occurs. Sometimes, when a slow leak is present and infection has not developed, contractions may not start for a few days or longer. In general, the later in a pregnancy PROM occurs, the sooner the onset of labor.
Sometimes a leak high up in the amniotic sac may reseal itself so that preterm labor does not start or subsides.
In rare cases, a pregnancy can be carried to term if pPROM occurs in the second trimester.
Standard treatment for pPROM
Standard treatment for pPROM includes antenatal corticosteroid medicines, which are used to speed up fetal lung maturity at or before 34 weeks of pregnancy.
Other treatment for pPROM
Other treatment for pPROM may include:
After amniotic membranes have ruptured, tocolytic medicine is less effective in slowing or stopping preterm labor contractions. But tocolytic medicine is sometimes used to delay a preterm birth long enough for antibiotics and antenatal corticosteroid medicine to work (24 hours) or long enough to transport the mother to a hospital that has a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).1
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||William Gilbert, MD - Maternal and Fetal Medicine|
|Last Revised||January 8, 2013|
Last Revised: January 8, 2013
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